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

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.

Filed Under
From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 18, 2010 2:11 PM

    What is Kotick's deal? He's taking a dump on his developers as publicly as possible. Just not cool.

    • reply
      February 18, 2010 2:18 PM

      Likely because he's an asshole. The direction he's taking Activision though, we should only have to put up with him a few more years. Keep on exploiting those IP's to their fullest potential there Bobby! It's all about quantity, not quality.

      • reply
        February 19, 2010 7:02 PM

        Isn't he (unfortunately) running Activision-Blizzard?

        No amount of sucking he does can stop the cashflow that Blizzard brings with every release. And with WoW building its income base by monetizing everything including things that were previously unacceptable into profit potential (ie., trait change, race change, class change, faction change, decoder ring login, purchasable pets) and Cataclysm combined with upcoming releases of each SC2 campaign as a separate release, Diablo 3, the building up of as a moneymaker through iTunes-like sales of maps...

        Blizzard will be propping up anything this guy does wrong. He'll be in business longer than suits anywhere else.

    • reply
      February 18, 2010 2:19 PM

      I find that he's just a general douche bag all around. I usually don't have much to say about the higher ups of game developers and publishers, but this guy just pisses me off. I understand that he's there to make money but at the same time, he's a real asshole while doing so.

      On the other hand, EA seems to be doing a lot better than what they used to. Better as in, not being douchebags. They're not that great yet, but better than they were, that's for sure.

      • reply
        February 18, 2010 2:23 PM

        I'm cool with transparency and I'm cool with people making money. I just think execs for any industry need to be careful when airing their "dirty laundry."

    • reply
      February 18, 2010 2:29 PM

      Yeah... how would you feel if you were in that group? "YEah.. we expected good games from those guys.. but.. you know.. maybe we should have kept the Rock Band guys" DAMN! That's harsh. I think thier biggest crime with Guitar Hero was just making too man damn versions of the game! The games that came ot are not necessarily bad... the market is just too diluted. I think management is more to blame than the developers because they probably pushed them to create as many titles as possible while the "music game fad" was hot.


      • reply
        February 18, 2010 3:35 PM


      • reply
        February 18, 2010 3:42 PM

        He just sounds like the type of CEO who's never happy nor satisfied with what he has. If he did have Harmonix, he'd still complain.

        • reply
          February 18, 2010 3:58 PM


        • reply
          February 18, 2010 4:19 PM

          Most CEOs have type A personalities. The kind of men who are obsessed with their work and are never satisfied with success. Theres always another mountain to climb. They get pissed off when they dont get the results they are looking for and typically consider people to be lazy if they dont want to "challenge" themselves to be the same way.

Hello, Meet Lola