Activision CEO Admits They 'Missed' by Letting Guitar Hero Creators Harmonix Get Away

By Garnett Lee, Feb 18, 2010 2:00pm PST Delivering his keynote at DICE ("Activision CEO: We Should Have Partnered With Harmonix" on Game|Life and "DICE 2010: Kotick Talks Passion For Industry, Debuts Indie Contest" on Gamasutra), Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick addressed the company's acquisition moves and motives. Among these, he talked about their making the wrong choice from the partnership between Harmonix and Red Octane that created Guitar Hero and lamented in hindsight their not better recognizing the talent involved.

Unimaginable as it sounds, he said, "We really didn't even think, hey, we should go to Boston and meet these Harmonix guys and see what they're up to." He explained that while they knew of their music games, the perception of Harmonix was that their games weren't commercially viable.

Kotick also took something of an odd stance on Neversoft's work on the series since then. He said that Activision expected great games from them but had they instead turned to Harmonix "it would probably be a profitable opportunity for both of us." Whether there would be that much difference is a tough question. Current music game sales slump notwithstanding, Neversoft's entries in the series have amassed a sizable treasure chest of profits for the publisher.

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  • Wow, Bobby. I won't stop hoping that Rock Band eventually trounces Guitar Hero - but that's just a cruel thing to do to Neversoft (which is a fine studio, just not the right one for the GH job IMHO).

    This is another problem with the business/corporate side of games - why do businessmen always act like all development studios are interchangable? Each has its own interests, passsions, strengths, and weaknesses. Why wouldn't you let the studio packed with musicians (or at the very least - unabashed music-lovers) work on a music game for you? No! Let's shove the IP off to a still-very-talented, but very different studio and then later on wonder why the product is somehow lacking.

    I guess that's what happens when you look at your employees as nothing but headcount, dollar signs, and (a very limited) past return on investment.