Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

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Achtung Englander
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Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by Achtung Englander » Thu Nov 22, 2018 8:08 pm

https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/ ... ard-report

I was fired from Activision 10 years ago because I did a market research presentation on how new IP and regular new IP is the driving force to staying alive in the gaming industry. They fired me 3 days later. So this bit I love the most : As one former Blizzard staffer put it, "We are being told to spend less at every corner because we have no new IP. Because Overwatch set this bar of how much we could earn in a single year, there's a ton of pressure from Activision to get shit moving. They want something to show shareholders."

Kiss my hairy arse !.

I love it
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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by Raid » Thu Nov 22, 2018 9:16 pm

This article is even more revealing:

https://kotaku.com/the-past-present-and ... AdGAEPZgWU

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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by Jez » Thu Nov 22, 2018 9:38 pm

What reason did they give you for being fired mate? Shitty company.
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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by Achtung Englander » Thu Nov 22, 2018 10:37 pm

I was in a dept called Catalogue Management and my role was to forecast the first 13 weeks of physical sell through, namely retail sales (this is before digital took off) for new games so that Operations could have a good idea of how many discs to print to minimise debt on the P&L. My other function was to provide market research on the direction of the games industry and provide insight in trends and gamer demographics. The dept I worked for was not liked by some people (actually one person) in sales and it became very political.

Activision is a clicky clicky sort of company. You need to get along with the right people otherwise they will chew you and spit you out. So in the week my boss took a holiday I was asked to present a report on state of the industry. The upshot is that I compared where Activision was going to EA and Ubisoft. Then these 2 companies were launching new IPs like Dead Space and Assassin Creed and building on these games with continual PR. Activision only other saving grace, apart from COD, was Guitar Hero and that was tanking - fast. In my presentation I put the case that the company should skip COD for one year and get the studios to launch at least 3 new IPs. This was in case COD fell out of favour one year and Activision would face a massive problem of missed revenue because it would have put almost all of its profitable games (or game in this matter) in one basket. Essentially I put the case that they should not hedge their future revenue stream on one product but have a portfolio of games.

I was fired 3 days later for not fitting in with the organisation. The girl I worked with was fired 2 months later and my boss the following month.

Still in games mind and Activision is now one of my clients ! :lol:
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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by Jez » Thu Nov 22, 2018 10:45 pm

What? They said the reason for firing was that you didn't fit in with the organisation?
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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by Achtung Englander » Thu Nov 22, 2018 10:47 pm

yep

on a side note my desk was next to the Blizzard guys who were all great. It was another company in a shit company.
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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by Mantis » Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:04 pm

Raid wrote:
Thu Nov 22, 2018 9:16 pm
This article is even more revealing:

https://kotaku.com/the-past-present-and ... AdGAEPZgWU
I wonder if there's any correlation between the comments about spending too much money unnecessarily and the fact that Diablo 4 is chuntering along in the background. Blizzard's ethos has always been to release games when they're definitely ready and Diablo 3 went through a lot of iterative changes which Blizzard were very open about at various Blizzcon presentations in the run up to release. Reimagining the franchise as a Dark Souls style action game would have been a very bold and risky move if they'd kept on with it. Making the next entry more akin to Diablo 2 would be a huge winner, even with Activision management putting the boot in about development length and not churning out enough new IPs to keep revenue streams up.

Interesting that the article references how Project Titan is still a sore topic among the staff too, even though they salvaged it in the hugely successful Overwatch. It makes sense that they prefer to keep things close to their chest nowadays though.

Screw Activision, people in suits should have as little impact on game development as possible. I hope Blizzard win out and take as much time as they need on Diablo 4 so that it is everything fans hope for. They have a lot to make up for Diablo 3's initial launch.

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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by Snowy » Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:33 am

Yes it is a bizarre dichotomy with games companies becoming corporate in nature. Corporate culture is archly conservative, and while buzzwords like 'being disruptive in the industry' are in every boardroom these days, the sole focus in on maintaining the bottom line. Compare this with successful development houses and they tend to get their success because they create something new and exciting. Take away this creativity or stifle it, and unsurprisingly there is a drop-off in revenue as well as unhappy developers (that is without factoring in short-cutting and crunch-culture).
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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by DjchunKfunK » Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:08 am

Was discussing this yesterday with some people. I think Blizzard needs to get better at releasing games, in a time when most studios are able to make great games in 3-4 years it's amazing that Blizzard still takes nearly double that amount of time especially when it isn't always the case that the games they release are blowing the competition out of the water.

There is a case for iteration and being able to start over again if the project is not heading in the right direction, but when this happens with all of your games and often mutliple times I think it demonstrates a flaw in your processes. You have to ask why so many projects are rebooted; are the original designs just wrong but they go ahead anyway; are expectations perhaps unrealistic; are the teams just not capable of pulling off the original designs? Whatever it is, I think Blizzard is starting to suffer because of it. If Activision were to come in and make the company focus a bit more I don't think that would necessarily be a bad thing.

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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by Mantis » Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:01 pm

I don't think it's really a problem if they take longer than other devs, it's not like they are struggling financially from their long development cycles. If anything it seems like a fiscal management decision forced down on the dev team has been responsible for a lot of the problems for the Diablo franchise when they could have just been left to produce a second expansion pack.

Game development is a creative and experimental process. If they weren't financially solvent I could understand someone from finance telling them to sort stuff out. But this is Blizzard, they are one of the most successful and beloved developers in the world, and a lot of that success is owed to the company culture.

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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by DjchunKfunK » Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:18 pm

The thing is it might not be making them go bankrupt but if it wasn't for WoW it would have caused them financial issues in the past. Additionally Diablo 3 when it came out was a mess so its not like the way they develop games is a guarantee of success.

The way they currently develop games means they have to rely on their games to be smash hits and have some way of providing them with continuous revenue because of the way they take so long to get a game out and I think this is starting to warp development and put undue pressure on their development of new games. A third person Diablo might have been really cool and a nice way to experiment, but I bet part of the reason it was pulled was because it was seen as too risky and not guaranteed to sell the types of numbers they need their games to. Everything has to be a massive hit otherwise the seven years of development is seen as a massive waste. That's a lot of pressure to put on people and means the studio is a lot more conservative than they perhaps need to be.

I don't think it is a bad idea for Blizzard to take a look at their development practices while they can before it actually becomes an larger issue.

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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by Achtung Englander » Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:19 pm

Blizzard's inertia is pure corporate alpha male decision making. The people who are in control of the purse strings and direct project funding are the least informed about the games and the community. Why ?

- they don't play games. Hardly anyone in a suit / boardroom office actually plays games, let alone their own . I know this, I have seen it with my own eyes.
- they will chase the most popular thing right now without thinking that by the time their thing comes out, it is already out of vogue
- they think they know what is best because they have a big salary (I am not kidding here)
- they don't follow their own community and think its a waste of time
- they will not listen to new ideas or take a risk on anything remotely original because its untested. When they do take a risk and it becomes popular they will milk the cow until its dead - Guitar Hero, Skylanders, modern warfare games
- they need to make money now and as much of it as possible. So cancelling projects and jobs is an easy win if it means churning out Shooter XIV because they know some people will buy it

This is why with this generation of games (2013 - ) almost all are sequels, offer nothing new in gameplay mechanics and almost all have DLC, MTX as part of their core. They are using gambling mechanisms to get more money to make up for offering less like no SP narrative, less content, open world sandbox shooters where you have to make the fun for yourself.

AAA game development is going backward for the most part. Only Sony 1st party games are offering something new and Rockstar is going bigger and bolder. For originality and dare I say, fun, look towards indie.
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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by Mantis » Fri Nov 23, 2018 2:31 pm

Rockstar haven't escaped the corporate clutches entirely either. All plans for single player DLC for GTAV were cancelled because the MTX on the multiplayer side was raking in billions. The huge emphasis on multiplayer for that game really soured the whole experience for me.

Indie games, or at least much smaller publishers, have been my respite from all the nonsense for a few years now.

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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by Raid » Fri Nov 23, 2018 2:52 pm

I've forever been confused by the popularity of GTA V's online mode, particularly when it comes to the ridiculous amount of money people have spent on microtransactions for it, given that every time I try to play it seems every server is filled with cheaters. The game has raked in over a billion dollars just from microtransactions alone, not forgetting that it somehow sold more than 90 million copies to begin with. I still suspect that the reason the cheating is so prevalent is because it means those players' accounts can be banned, and then they need to buy another copy. It's the only reason I've ever come up with for why the game seems to constantly be in the top 10 sellers list despite being five years old. Sadly, its success means that other publishers have taken note, and that's why every big-name game now needs to have monetisation options built in, and why multiplayer seems to be the focus. I reckon GTA V Online is directly responsible for the existence of Fallout 76.

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Re: Blizzard is paying the price for being in bed with Activision

Post by DjchunKfunK » Sat Nov 24, 2018 9:57 am

Achtung Englander wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:19 pm
Blizzard's inertia is pure corporate alpha male decision making. The people who are in control of the purse strings and direct project funding are the least informed about the games and the community. Why ?

- they don't play games. Hardly anyone in a suit / boardroom office actually plays games, let alone their own . I know this, I have seen it with my own eyes.
- they will chase the most popular thing right now without thinking that by the time their thing comes out, it is already out of vogue
- they think they know what is best because they have a big salary (I am not kidding here)
- they don't follow their own community and think its a waste of time
- they will not listen to new ideas or take a risk on anything remotely original because its untested. When they do take a risk and it becomes popular they will milk the cow until its dead - Guitar Hero, Skylanders, modern warfare games
- they need to make money now and as much of it as possible. So cancelling projects and jobs is an easy win if it means churning out Shooter XIV because they know some people will buy it

This is why with this generation of games (2013 - ) almost all are sequels, offer nothing new in gameplay mechanics and almost all have DLC, MTX as part of their core. They are using gambling mechanisms to get more money to make up for offering less like no SP narrative, less content, open world sandbox shooters where you have to make the fun for yourself.

AAA game development is going backward for the most part. Only Sony 1st party games are offering something new and Rockstar is going bigger and bolder. For originality and dare I say, fun, look towards indie.
I don't think this applies to Blizzard, they have been mostly free of Activision's clutches since the merger it's only recently that Activision have started to interfere a bit more. The guys at the top of Blizzard are all ex-developers so they know about games.

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