Activision CEO on Plans to 'Take All the Fun Out of Making Video Games,' Go Beyond Consoles

By Chris Faylor, Sep 15, 2009 9:50am PDT Occassionally villified Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has made another revelation bound to spark some interesting conversation, admitting that "the goal that I had [at Activision]...about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games."

The comment came during a Deutsche Bank Securities Technology Conference attended by GameSpot, during which Kotick spoke rather frankly regarding the company's culture, future and focus on profit.

The head of Activision Blizzard--one of, if not the, largest game publishers, known for such hits as Guitar Hero, Call of Duty and World of Warcraft--noted that the company's incentive program "really rewards profit and nothing else," adding that "skepticism, pessimism, and fear" are used to keep employees "focused on the deep depression."

Describing the company's attitude as "a real culture of thrift," Kotick explained that "you have studio heads who five years ago didn't know the difference between a balance sheet and a bed sheet who are now arguing allocations in our CFO's office pretty regularly."

As for Activision's future, the CEO said to "expect many of our products to be playable independent of a console," with GameSpot's writeup explaining:

[Kotick said] he'd been impressed with media hub functionalities shown by 1080p TVs that let users stream content from their PCs. He also suggested a day in not-too-distant future where players' Facebook profiles will be integrated into Guitar Hero, letting them make songs to share with friends, post high scores or favorite songs on their profile page, and so on.

"I think what the untethered Guitar Hero does is equal the playing field a little more and give you some leverage with first parties when it comes to downloadable content and the business model," Kotick added.

However, that doesn't mean Activision is planning to abandon the lucrative console software market. Addressing criticisms that unrealistic facial animations, such as those in Treyarch's Call of Duty: World at War, destroy a player's immersion, he unveiled some new technology meant to render mouth movements in real-time.

Said technology won't be ready until the next generation of games, though Kotick hopes it will transform the medium and be ready before the next generation of consoles.

And as for when the next generation of consoles will arrive, the Activision executive was uncertain, only noting that the company usually hears about new hardware about two years in advance and has thus far heard nothing from Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo.

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  • The game industry seems to be 1/2 skill based and 1/2 talent. It seems to me policies that promote nothing but a sheer focus on profitability would just drive away creative minded people. Since talented people can just go somewhere else, or find a job in another industry. Thus leaving just the money grubbing and mediocre to fill out ranks and in tern produce mediocre products. That and this constant repackaging of products does no good, because they do nothing to cover their bases with strong new brands as things progress. GM did the same thing, they got to the point where a small car wasn't profitable to make and they relied solely on SUVs that had poor fuel economy. Tastes changed and prices of oil went up, so because of that sheer focus on profits without promotion of good small car lines lead them with nothing to fall back on, and in turn collapse nearly. The point I'm making is about Activisions poor production of new IPs, bad corporate culture, ect. Google for example promotes creativeness among it's employees. I see nothing of that here in Activision. That'll be their long term downfall.