Activision Blames Consoles for Ghosts Sales - The UpStream

Activision Blames Consoles for Ghosts Sales

posted Saturday Dec 7, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Activision Blames Consoles for <i>Ghosts</i> Sales

In the latest issue of GameInformer features a discussion with Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg about the recent sales drop for Call of Duty: Ghosts. Despite being the top-selling title on next generation consoles, overall sales for the title have been lower than that company had hoped.

Obviously, the belief in the industry is that the yearly release schedule has caused people to have less of an urge to purchase each individual title. With that type of schedule, you end up with a lot of cookie cutter-style gameplay that would be better served as DLC rather than a branded title. Even EA has weighed in on the concept, publicly stating that they had abandoned the idea of annual Battlefield titles for fear of diluting the franchise.

So, what does Activision believe the problem is? Too many active consoles on the market. Apparently, since many people have the ability to purchase the title more than once, they have decided not to purchase it at all.

We've been pretty transparent all year that we think, because of the challenges of the console transition year, that that was likely in the short-term. I think it would be a mistake to conflate the challenges of the console transition year with any indications about the health of the franchise.

Of course, there is no way it could be possible that mimicking the Guitar Hero business model could lead to a similar fate. It is more likely that doing the exact same thing twice will result in significantly different outcomes. Hirshberg's response to critics of the business model is possibly the most disconnected from reality.

Well no, obviously not - and obviously I don't agree with the critics there. I know that Call of Duty's a polarising franchise with some of the critics, and it's clear to me that not all the critics like our strategy of making a game every year, but thankfully our fans do.

It's also clear to me that the critical response doesn't always mirror the fans' appreciation of a game. We actually do read the critics' comments and take them into consideration during our creative process, but we just can't measure ourselves by that yardstick alone.

It is a good thing that Activision listens to critics during the creative process, as Ghosts is the lowest rated game in the franchise of the entire generation.

Our most important audience is our fans, so we try to stay laser-focused on making games that they love. If you look at the fact that {Ghosts is} the most pre-ordered game of the year, it's the most pre-ordered next-gen game of the year, it's already the number one most played on Xbox Live, and that we're seeing longer average playtimes than ever before, we're confident that we're doing well by the criteria that matter most.

So, we listen to critics, but stay laser-focused on gamers. While that might sound like a major disconnect, in this case they are the same. Low ratings, plus low sales hopefully equals an altered release schedule with an actual focus on gamers and gameplay, rather than just saying it in an interview. We won't know until E3, but Activision is not known for making fact-based business decisions, so if there was money on it, I would bet for a new title in 2014.

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