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New Call of Duty Titles Announced, Fired Devs Sue For Name

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the modern-legal-warfare dept.

Businesses 134

eldavojohn writes "Activision has announced new Call of Duty titles while fired Infinity Ward Developer leads Jason West and Vince Zampella sue them for the rights to the name. According to Activision, 'The company intends to expand the Call of Duty brand with the same focus seen in its Blizzard Entertainment business unit. This will include a focus on high-margin digital online content and further[ing] the brand as the leading action entertainment franchise in new geographies, new genres and with new digital business models.' Ars opines that Activision is set to over-saturate the market with tons of CoD titles similar to how it expertly brought down Guitar Hero."

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134 comments

Some very rich lawyers (5, Insightful)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 4 years ago | (#31369770)

will probably be the only end result, after ten years.

Re:Some very rich lawyers (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370842)

And Activision stock holders.

Here's what'll probably happen:

They'll burn through the CoD franchise, essentially cashing in on the name. Folks'll buy the first wave of games and DLC crap, perhaps the second, before realizing it is not worth the bits they bought a license to use. Just look at the Guitar Hero franchise to get an idea.

Meanwhile, Activision stock prices go through the roof. Any smart investor will cash out, which I'd be surprised if it wasn't Activision's top tier of management. Eventually, the CoD brand splats like hot crap on a tin roof, and Blizzard alone won't be able to keep Activision open.

Kotick and Co. will get to keep their money as it'll be a difficult to prove they were manipulating stock prices. I mean, after all, they were just doing what they thought was the best for the company. How the heck would you prove they deliberately pumped the brand to make a buck? Is that even illegal if they own the rights to it?

Re:Some very rich lawyers (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372624)

Insider trade is illegal, and selling your stock just before it hits rock bottom sure smells like it if you're the CEO of the company in question. It all depends on how tight the US laws are concerning insider trade.

Re:Some very rich lawyers (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 4 years ago | (#31373022)

The problem is....where do you draw the line between insider trading and feigned CEO incompetence?

The picture I'd create is this:

I needed money for a side project investment so I divest myself of Activision shares to invest into a new company or something profitable. Then, through no "before-hand" knowledge or direct action of my own, my company goes under. Sure, I "might" have made some bad choices, resulting in a brand cash cow drying up, but that's not a deliberate action such as pump'n'dump or cooking the books. Plus I can always blame the following:
1. Pirates steal our software, making our sales model nonviable
2. Gamers "taste" have changed. They no longer want what we have(Probably because we pushed 10 crappy games out in the past 1.5 years)
3. Current Economic situation means $60+ games are not being bought.

I mean, who cares if folks call me an incompetent CEO? I managed to make myself millions and head a studio that made several GOTY games. That can buy a startup studio with a good idea and a lotta ear plugs....

A person can create situations that makes failure look like no fault on their own. Just look at so many IT projects.

Obligatory Penny Arcade (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370852)

Right Here [penny-arcade.com].

Developers and franchise holders need to learn not to sign with Activision. Or at the very least, avoid letting their franchise get locked in and their companies bought out.

Look at the list of franchises Activision has "run into the fucking ground" over the years.

Tony Hawk and the O2 Sports line? Check. And sadly, two of the best games in that line - Shaun Palmer Pro Snowboarding, Mat Hoffman Pro BMX - weren't skateboarding, and were probably better for not surviving since they existed in the merits of the sport rather than the "yeah skateboarders are a bunch of vandals and criminals and you can be thieves and thugs just like them" crap message of the later games.

Spider-Man games? Oh good fucking grief. Just when we thought they had learned their lesson, since Spidey 2 for PS2/Xbox was stellar (exception made for the really crappy DS and PSP ports that still used the old Spidey-1 engine), out comes Spidey 3 and it's a completely retarded title with psychotic, seizure-looking "fighting" and "press X to not die" boss battles. Sigh. Then they went and tried to redeem the engine with "Prototype"... good concept, poor execution.

In fact, their games based on Marvel in general have been crappier and crappier. The "storyline" of Ultimate Alliance 2 was pure turdburger, and the gameplay is just so much recycled crap. We lost a great fighting game franchise when Marvel went "Activision exclusive" and Marvel vs Capcom died, but what did they replace it with? Stinker after stinker of X-men "fighting game" titles, Baldurs-Gate-Lite beat-em-up "RPG" titles, and more stinky steaming turdburger movie tie-in titles than you can think of.

Their James Bond "let's rip off the CoD engine and try to make a spy game" titles? Oh god. Especially the Quantum of Solace "Well we never finished the Casino Royale game so we'll just stick the levels in this one" crap.

Guitar Hero? Let's see. Guitar Hero 1-4, "World Tour", 5, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Metallica, "Smash Hits", Band Hero, DJ Hero, "Rocks the 80s", "Greatest Hits", Guitar Hero Mobile, Guitar Hero On Tour, Guitar Hero On Tour Decades, Guitar Hero "Backstage Pass", "Guitar Hero Game Trivia Quiz for iPhone", "Guitar Hero Carabiner" for mobile phones... Can we say franchise fatigue? Yes, I'm pretty sure we can.

It's no surprise why Harmonix picked up, said "fuck it" to their brand name, and just started over with Rock Band. Plus, Activision's online store for music is crap beyond crap, trying to force you to buy everything as album packs with no previews. With Rock Band, I mostly grab the tracks I want one at a time, unless I find a real reason to buy the "pack" or album set, and I listen to the preview first (got burned once by one of their really crap-ass David Bowie covers, never again will I purchase unlistened... but that was my own damn fault for not previewing). And as much as I hate supporting EA over anyone, in the case of Rock Band vs Guitar Hero, EA is the lesser of two evils by far.

Enough is enough... Activision needs to either kick Kotick out, preferably skidding on his face rather than just landing on his fat ass, or else die so the good companies they bought up (Blizzard?) can go back out and be independent and innovative once more.

Re:Obligatory Penny Arcade (4, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371606)

Harmonix didn't pick up and go somewhere else, they were fired.

There was a quote from one of the high ups in the last month, that explained what happened. They purchased Red Octane and got the license to Guitar Hero. They said "Here's this little developer that makes music games that don't sell, if we give the series to a A-list developer, they'll be able to hit it out of the park."

So they dropped Harmonix, who pioneered the recent music game, was full of musicians, knew what they were doing, and got not one but TWO games to sell in huge boxes taking up tons of shelf space and costing nearly $100... and replaced it with a studio known for driving properties into the ground.

Harmonix went and innovated some more. They made a full band. They made a game with soul.

Activision made Guitar Hero 2, with big budget celebrities and extra notes in the charts to make it harder (thus violating the "playing real music" idea).

But since Guitar Hero had a name at that point (thanks entirely to Harmonix), GH3 sold really well. This happens (see: other Matrix Movies, Star Wars episodes 1-3, etc.).

I'm rather amazed that someone finally admitted that canning Harmonix may not have been the best move.

Re:Obligatory Penny Arcade (0)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372860)

Activision is making a wide variety of (crap) games; you don't have to go out and buy them. The CEO's job is to make lots of profit for the shareholders by any means he can. If you don't like the rules of that "IRL" game, buy independent games, or at least games that aren't distributed by publicly held corporations. Nobody is forcing you to buy Activision's games...

Re:Some very rich lawyers (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371366)

Meanwhile innovation will continue and businesses will choose to operate over here because our country has the best IP laws.

I hate Software Patent as much as the next guy, but at least we have some means besides a more powerful copyright to protect our software without divulging anything to the world (GPL).

Re:Some very rich lawyers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31371586)

Hello,

This

'...best IP laws...'

proves you're lying about this ... 'I hate Software patent...'

Or maybe you're just incredibly stupid.

Either way, please do us all a favour and go kill yourself.

Activision strikes again and the site goes down :) (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31369790)

"Server Error in '/' Application."

Yup, the G4 link is dead already.

I really don't understand. (5, Funny)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 4 years ago | (#31369806)

All that really has to be done to solve 70% of the problems with the game industry is assassinating Bobby Kotick. Why won't somebody get on it already?

Read an interview with him recently (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31371728)

He seemed to remember fondly how Activision was pulled from near bankruptcy by a guy that had a habit of selling IP that they didn't own.

Re:I really don't understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31372940)

Have you ever heard of the legend of the hydra?

Might I suggest the title? (3, Interesting)

anomnomnomymous (1321267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31369846)

Call of Duty: Activision Warfare

On a more serious note: I'm feeling a bit doublesided about the whole debacle of Activision firing Jason West and Vince Zampella: On one hand it's a shame to see that two apparently talented developers are so easy to fire, on the other hand: They brought this onto themselves when they decided to sell the company to Activision.
If they'd done some proper research they would have seen how horrible Activision has been treating their studios/games the past few years (loads of developers have been fleeing to other publishers), so this shouldn't come as a surprise.

I still can't understand why IW choose to let them be bought out though: They were/are a very succesful studio, and they sold for a very low price. Sounded like a dumb move at the time, and after hearing about the incredible sales figures for CoD:MW2, it sounds even more stupid that they've taken that step.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (4, Funny)

EvilMonkeySlayer (826044) | more than 4 years ago | (#31369864)

I prefer "Modern Lawfare" or "Call Of Jury".

Or you could combine.. "Call Of Jury: Modern Lawfare".

Re:Might I suggest the title? (5, Funny)

Obyron (615547) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370048)

As opposed to the newly announced Activision title, Call of Jewry-- telling the tale of two Polish Jews hardened by the camps who have escaped, and are now killing their way toward the Fuhrerbunker one. fucking. nazi. at a time. They're calling it a masterpiece of historical authenticity, and have already announced DLC where you can buy new single player maps, each with a prominent Third Reich figure as a boss, which you can horribly murder a la Rockstar's Manhunt games crossed with Bloodrayne.

One level is already generating controversy before it has even been released. Our steely antiheroes are caught in an SS Paranormal Division experiment and are flung back in time through an unstable portal. It is February 1904, days before the birth of Reinhard Heydrich-- the Butcher of Prague, and architect of the Final Solution. You are tasked with tracking down the pregnant mother before the temporal portal collapses and you are destroyed in the process. Will you kill the unborn child, kill the mother, or will you show the compassion that was not shown to you? What changes will your decision cause in Activision's dynamic gameplay system?

Don't miss Activision's newest blockbuster: Call of Jewry -- "Never Forget. Never Again."

Quintin Tarantino is reportedly having a boxing match with Uwe Boll to see who will direct the film adaption.

(If Activision is reading this, you can license this idea for a modest fee... It almost saddens me that I would probably pay money to play this.)

Re:Might I suggest the title? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31370282)

I think I've laughed harder at this comment than any other I've encountered before and yet, I find myself almost wistful that this isn't and probably will never be a real game.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (1)

ryantmer (1748734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372976)

Agreed. I'm fairly sure that I would play this. Hell, I would even buy it!*

*If, in the event that the prospect of someone buying a game has caused heart palpitations, cardiac arrest, stroke, unwanted pregnancy, athlete's foot, or a feeling that the world has officially gone nuts, rest assured that I was joking.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (4, Insightful)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370394)

Quintin Tarantino is reportedly having a boxing match with Uwe Boll to see who will direct the film adaption.

I think more people would prefer to see that.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (4, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370548)

I would pay money for that. And I want Tarantino to smuggle a knife into the fight, because there is absolutely NO WAY Boll should be allowed to win.

And by "knife" I mean "a Hattori Hanzo sword".

(Stupid /. not accepting the long-o HTML entity "ō".)

Re:Might I suggest the title? (4, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371460)

I want Tarantino to smuggle a knife into the fight, because there is absolutely NO WAY Boll should be allowed to continue breathing unaided.

FTFY.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370614)

This sounds more like a Visceral game than Activision! (Joystiq Podcast has a segment every once and a while where people suggest ideas for 'Visceral' games, just like this. You should totally send it in.)

Re:Might I suggest the title? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31371134)

Totally worth it.

I laughed.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372008)

Pretty sure that's called Wolfenstien, and your too late, Activision already wreaked the crap out of that.

http://www.gamerankings.com/pc/930284-wolfenstein/index.html [gamerankings.com]

Ah, ET how I miss you... oh wait I guess I can still go play that... sweet!

Re:Might I suggest the title? (1)

Obyron (615547) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372478)

Yeah I was going for shades of Wolfenstein, Bloodrayne, Manhunt, and some even more depraved and exploitative ideas that none of those three quite managed to harness. We have charted the heights of video gaming, but I am convinced that we have yet to fully sound the depths.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (3, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370462)

"Soap, file that injunction NOW!"

"Ramirez, take point on the deposition."

"Hooah"

Re:Might I suggest the title? (4, Informative)

quantumplacet (1195335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31369918)

Except they weren't a successful studio when they got bought, they were a small studio trying to release their first game. and at the time, activision was not nearly as reviled as they are now. if you're a brand new developer and one of the largest publishers in the world offers to buy you but let you maintain creative control, you don't say no.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31370032)

Make sure to get the 'maintain creative control' bit in writing, apparently.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31370368)

They did one better -- they got it in a legal document, as part of their contract.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (1)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370074)

They were a splinter group of 2015, Inc. who were responsible for Medal of Honor - Allied Assault, then published by Electronic Arts. And back then it was indeed EA that was the evil company so they left 2015 and formed Infinity Ward. EA then milked MoH to death and IW were acquired by Activision where they made Call of Duty. Seems history is about to repeat itself. Back to EA maybe? ;-)

Re:Might I suggest the title? (1)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371560)

I think they could manage without a publisher. If they can retain the name then its cachet alone is worth more than the marketing forces of a multi billion dollar company. As far as funding goes, VCs invest in the most brainless stuff all the time, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 isn't exactly a risky investment.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (5, Insightful)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370066)

According the legal brief that IW filed they didn't "SELL" to Activision, Activision simply bought them out. Also after MW1 West and Zampella signed a contract with Activision that gave them exclusive rights to the "Modern Warfare" name, stating that no game can hold that title, nor can any Call of duty game take place after the Vietnam War without written consent from both of them. It also promised them royalties for for any past or present Call of Duty game or any game built on an engine developed by IW. It also promised them creative freedoms to explore new IPs instead of just churning out COD games. The only "hitch" was that the two had to make another Modern Warfare (MW2) and that they had to deliver it by November 15th..

Well, they delivered the game, and did so 5 days before it was due. honestly I think even if Activision has valid grounds for letting them go, they still owe them what was promised in that contract since it the two of them clearly met their end of the bargain. Kotaku has the whole legal briefing... it's eye opening [kotaku.com]

The REAL issue seems to be that Activision was afraid [kotaku.com] that the two were going to jump ship and go back to EA... The legal brief also goes into details of ridiculous month-long interrogation techniques Activision put the IW developers though trying to find evidence against West and Zampella. The final termination was based on comments made by them at a meeting over a year ago, and they were given 6 hours to "respond" to the charge of "insubordination" without being told what the charge was actually about.

It's like a husband suspecting that his wife is cheating, turned the house upside down looking for evidence, and then the only "evidence" he can find is an off handed email from a year ago and kicks her out saying "you know what you've done"...

Re:Might I suggest the title? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31370440)

Do you have a car analogy for that?

Re:Might I suggest the title? (1)

KnownIssues (1612961) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371024)

According the legal brief that IW filed they didn't "SELL" to Activision, Activision simply bought them out.

This is a sincere question. How can you buy something that isn't for sale? Unless you're the government.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (1)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371356)

Usually companies have investors. Activision just needed to buy from enough investors that they own more than 50% of IW.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31372122)

The REAL issue seems to be that Activision was afraid [kotaku.com] that the two were going to jump ship and go back to EA...

If this is true, then Activision is run by insane people and their stockholders should be very, very worried.

It's not necessarily insane to fire employees. Even employees who are really good at what they do. There are times and places where shit like that happens and in the cold calculation of business you may calculate that it may make you more pennies to fire them than it does to keep them around. It happens.

But it IS insane to fire employees because you're worried that they're going to quit and go work for a competitor. That's just completely batshit nuts.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372284)

6 hours to "respond" & without being told what the charge was actually about. mm in the UK that would be an automatic win at an IT (Industrial Tribuneral)

Re:Might I suggest the title? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370532)

I picture Doctor Faustus crying out to a judge "But I made the deal with the devil in good faith!! I couldn't have known he would screw me!"

Re:Might I suggest the title? (2, Informative)

grapeape (137008) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370764)

Thats true if you go back to the recent past but if you go back to the time when IW was purchased, Activision was the less evil of the big 3 (EA, Ubisoft and Activision). In the time since, EA has worked hard to improve its image, taking chances on new IP, taking a more hands off approach with developers, listening to customer feedback, etc. Meanwhile Activision has gutted 7 studios, Radical and Neversoft then they closed Underground Studios, Luxoflux, Shaba Studios and Red Octane. Add in Kotick's public "supposed-misquotes" such as

"really [reward] profit and nothing else"

"skepticism, pessimism, and fear" is promoted within the company with the goal of "keeping people focused on the deep depression."

"The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games."

The big difference now is that back in the day when EA was the most evil, they were buying up rights to game genres (NFL, etc) and rehashing old titles with nothing new to offer. There was really no one person to focus nerd rage at. With activision gamers have their very own Darth Vader...minus the cool costume.

Call of Money: Activision Lawfare. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31370914)

Seems to be a rather fitting title for me for the sequel.

Splut.

Re:Might I suggest the title? (1)

KnownIssues (1612961) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370960)

I still can't understand why IW choose to let them be bought out though

Apparently you don't understand the appeal of even more money.

It's all about control (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31369906)

In their countersue Jason West and Vince Zampella claim that they have the right for "creative authority and approval for any "Modern Warfare" titles set in the post-Vietnam era, near future, or distant future".

Is it coincidence that Activision is announcing the development of several COD games at the same time?

What I suspect happened is that Activision just started developing these games without consulting Jason West and Vince Zampella, and then went to talk to them thinking they could just force them to do what they wanted.
When they refused, they got fired.

Oversaturation of the Brand (1)

Crock23A (1124275) | more than 4 years ago | (#31369968)

I know the real story is the lawsuit and the mud-slinging but let's not forget what Activision has done to the Guitar Hero franchise. There are like 25 games out in 5 years and they have milked it to death. Now COD (7) is on the way and you can bet there will be spin-offs and the like all over the place.

Re:Oversaturation of the Brand (1)

mayko (1630637) | more than 4 years ago | (#31369992)

As a business do they really care about over-saturating a brand if they can get rich doing it? I'd like to think they do, but I'm more inclined to think they have people who do nothing but figure out what approach will make the most money. In the end those conclusions drive development.

Re:Oversaturation of the Brand (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370024)

Of course they should care, once they over-saturate a brand they effectively kill it.

Re:Oversaturation of the Brand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31370036)

but I'm more inclined to think they have people who do nothing but figure out what approach will make the most money.

How evil! How dare they try to make the most money from their products!

Re:Oversaturation of the Brand (1)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370114)

The problem is not that they want to make money, the problem is that they want to make money by any means necessary. Quality will suffer from this and people will see a franchise they love and that's associated with quality and cutting-edge crash down into mediocreness and beyond that. Activision's management has no interest in creating quality games and that becomes a problem when they force their mindset onto development studios that otherwise would've created excellent high quality games.

Re:Oversaturation of the Brand (1)

mayko (1630637) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370534)

but I'm more inclined to think they have people who do nothing but figure out what approach will make the most money.

How evil! How dare they try to make the most money from their products!

That wasn't my point. I don't think they are _evil_. I was pointing out that they are a business. They aren't artists, they aren't social workers, and the ones who make decisions aren't passionate developers either... they market and sell products and answer to investors. Those answers are in dollars and cents, not "We felt a release of COD14 wouldn't have done justice to the franchise, so we canceled it."

Re:Oversaturation of the Brand (4, Insightful)

GTarrant (726871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370212)

They should, but they do not.

If there's anything that the last few years of watching the American corporate world could teach us, it's that the days of building a business that can stand the test of time, build a brand, and ensure that they are set for the future are essentially over. That used to be the way to make a successful corporation and to run a successful business, and for a small business, it generally still is.

However, taking a look at "big business" these days, it's all about "What can be done to maximize profits NOW, even if it means sacrificing more later?" (Or even, in the case of some of the big banks and such, even if it meant completely destroying the future prospects of the company).

Sometimes that makes sense - making $X now is better than $1.5*X two years from now. But with some of these franchises - Guitar Hero for example - you're talking about making $1.5*X now vs. $X every year or so for the next long while.

In the past year or so they've released what, three Guitar Hero games? Or is it four? I've lost count. Since Guitar Hero 3, anyway, they've released Guitar Hero Metallica, Guitar Hero Aerosmith, Guitar Hero World Tour, Guitar Hero Van Halen, Guitar Hero Smash Hits, and Guitar Hero 5. It got to the point that last year they announced a deal where if you bought Guitar Hero 5 within the first month of release, they would send you Guitar Hero Van Halen, when it was released, -for free-. The brand has been diluted to the point that no one gives a damn about it anymore. It was the goose that laid golden eggs and they whipped it to death so they could get two eggs today instead of twenty over time.

Will this happen with Call of Duty? It can. And when it does it happens quite suddenly, and given Activision's recent stated goals of simply taking franchises and running them into the ground, while not really developing new ones, they may find they suddenly have nothing left that will make money. At least EA has their sports games that they know will sell yearly. If Call of Duty and Guitar Hero go down the drain, then you are left essentially with the Blizzard titles keeping things going.

Re:Oversaturation of the Brand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31370898)

"then you are left essentially with the Blizzard titles keeping things going."

As if they give a shit? Blizzard can EASILY keep Activision afloat. WoW is a massive cash cow, not to mention SCII and DIII...

Activision doesn't need the CoD or the Guitar Hero IPs to keep going, they just wanted to milk them for as much immediate money as they could. They should have slowed down and stretched them both out, they would have made a LOT more money in the long run, but the baby boomer assholes that are in charge of these corporations are just trying to make as much money as they possibly can _right now_ so they can leave filthy rich.

Re:Oversaturation of the Brand (2, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371494)

I've made up my own Guitar Hero-style game.

I go out to a rock night-club, get hammered, and pretend I'm playing the game. As long as you're not the drummer, you look just like everyone else there.

Nobody likes the drummer.

Re:Oversaturation of the Brand (1)

2PAIRofACES (302747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372208)

It's funny you should mention the short sightedness of larger corporations since a friend and I were talking about that very thing just yesterday. I came up with the Idea of a sliding scale of capital gain's tax. Start it at 90% for stocks held 1 year, and drop it by 15% a year thereafter all the way to 0. While there are certainly drawbacks, we could be damned sure that those in charge would be singing a tune of what can I do to make us better in 5 years as opposed to what can I do to bump our stock for today.

I must have missed something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31370092)

Ars opines that Activision is set to over-saturate the market with tons of CoD titles similar to how it expertly brought down Guitar Hero.

Brought down? It's still wildly popular.

EA bounty? (4, Interesting)

wct (45593) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370100)

Interesting quote from Vince Zampella's profile on LinkedIn:

"...Rumor in the industry is that EA placed a million-dollar bounty for snapping up any IW studio lead, like Vince. Just the fact that the rumor is out there should speak volumes about how badly people want Vince working on their products"

Jesse Heinig, Production Coordinator, Infinity Ward
reported to Vince at Infinity Ward

Mother Fluckers. (4, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370174)

Fuck you, Activision. Modern Warfare was awesome. Modern Warfare 2 was ok. At this point, the series has no where to go but downhill. Why kill it like this?

Fuck you, Activision. Fuck you for becomming the new EA. Fuck you for treating your employees like shit. Fuck you for diluting the gaming industry and making it all about the money even more than it already was.

Fuck you.

Re:Mother Fluckers. (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370600)

Modern Warfare was a pretty big step up. CoD 2 & 3 kind of sucked. The original is still by far the best, IMO, followed by MW, which was mostly good due to its quirky levels--the execution, the gunship, the nuke, the sniper level that mostly just made me want to play the much-better STALKER:SoC again. Hell, I'd play a whole game of gunship levels.

Haven't played MW2 yet, though. Does sound like they want to turn the franchise in to MoH post-Allied Assault, which means it'll go straight to shit.

Re:Mother Fluckers. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370788)

The weird thing about MW2 is that it is bigger and more intense in almost every way than Modern Warfare was...but it feels like a game, not like an experience. Surviving to the end of a mission in the first Modern Warfare felt like a goddamn accomplishment; it left you drained physically and emotionally. Surviving to the end of a mission in Modern Warfare 2 feels like you finished a level...nothing more.

You can read my full review of Modern Warfare 2 right here. [livingwithanerd.com]

Re:Mother Fluckers. (3, Interesting)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371954)

CoD 1 with the expansion is still my favorite FPS of all time. The graphics were bad, but online play was very good if you found the right server and/or map. The Barbarossa map was my favorite; it was well balanced, huge, and had plenty of places to hide and engage in actual tactics. It had artillery that could be fired across the map by skilled players, attacking enemy bunkers and making things interesting. It had all the sniper action you could want. What's more, it had tanks, and lots of them. There's nothing like going over a hill to find 5 or 6 German tanks gunning for you. CoD 2 sucked, mostly because of the new health system. It makes no sense for you to just be able to hide and basically regenerate your shields every time you get hurt. That killed any sense of realism for me. Plus, they took away the vehicles they had in CoD 1.

Re:Mother Fluckers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31372984)

Strange:
I enjoyed CoD3 more than I do CoD4:MW.

Maybe it's the way multiplayer was set between the two on the Xbox 360.

For CoD3, we could connect two or three 360s together, and get up to four heads on a box, so you could just sit there all afternoon, murdering the fuck out of each other in local play.

For CoD4, you could either put four heads on one box, or one head on each box, which becomes annoying quickly when you've got 10 guys wanting to play, only one map suitable for two-on-two play, and everyone on one screen.

Needless to say, we would play a game or two of MW, then switched to 3 for much more fun to be had per hour.

We haven't touched WaW or MW2 as a result of MW's BS.

Re:Mother Fluckers. (1)

blankoboy (719577) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370926)

Well said and to that I add: I will never purchase another Activision published game again. I have better things to do than support money grubbing assholes. Fuck that.

Re:Mother Fluckers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31372900)

I have better things to do than support money grubbing assholes. Fuck that.

Then you'd basically have to stop buying almost any other game as well because I hate to break it to you, but almost all the other game companies are also "money grubbing assholes". Enjoy your selection of 2 games a year.

Re:Mother Fluckers. (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371272)

I agree that the campaign in MW2 was worse - personally I think it's because they went way too over the top. I mean the first one the stories were a bit out there but still somewhat believable. In the second one...no. Not at all. But I do think there are a lot of things they did right. The beginning of the campaign was great. The multiplayer missions are great - even though the majority of the time I'm playing them solo. I can't compare the online play as I've only done that in MW2. But anyway, I think they got a lot of things right, they were just trying too hard to be more intense and more shocking than the original. And they were trying to do it too many times.

Re:Mother Fluckers. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371666)

I think they got a lot of things right, they were just trying too hard to be more intense and more shocking than the original. And they were trying to do it too many times.

Interestingly, this bit from your post that I quoted can be applied directly to Bioshock 2 without any modification -_-;;

Re:Mother Fluckers. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372488)

Fuck you, Activision. Fuck you for becomming the new EA.

The funny thing is that, for all its launch problems (servers being down etc), EA's Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is shaping up to be a much better game than Modern Warfare 2, at least on the multiplayer front.

Re:Mother Fluckers. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372834)

I've noticed that as EA has slowly become less douchy, Activision has become more douchy. Always has to be a rotten apple, I suppose...

Just... wow. (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370256)

Wow, the quote in the summary is so full of "buy our stock because we will make you tons of money" speak. Based on that one quote alone the company will never have to do real work ever again and the majority stockholders will all be multi-billionaires soon.

(not that they ever did any real work in the first place)

Re:Just... wow. (1)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370428)

Not that there isn't a place for business strategy in the video game market, but that quote gave me the chills too. It scares me when the strategy is to overtake markets by creating games to fill those markets instead of making great games that naturally expand into said new markets.

WTF? (4, Interesting)

Radish03 (248960) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370526)

According to Activision, 'The company intends to expand the Call of Duty brand with the same focus seen in its Blizzard Entertainment business unit.'

What? Blizzard has put out seven titles (four of which are expansions) in the last decade. Activision has put out nine titles in the Guitar/Whatever Hero line in just the last three years (not counting portable titles), and it sounds like they have similar plans for the Call of Duty line. I think what they mean to say is "We think we can turn Call of Duty into a subscription based FPS that prints money for us like World of Warcraft. And if we farm out five more shovelware titles in the same line, they'll sell based on brand recognition alone."

Re:WTF? (1)

Vaphell (1489021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370858)

things don't looks so rosy in case of blizzard
since wc3 (circa 2003/4) they haven't released anything other than WoW and its expansions. Many people who built the success in the times of sc, d2 and wc3 are gone so it's not the same company it used to be.

sc2 is around the corner but it's planned as a 3 part experience right off the bat. You can see it as a good thing (more epic story) but there is a non-zero risk they'll follow the path of deliberate watering down and multiplying titles. Nobody knows how D3 will look like but it's not unlikely to see multiple expansions as well.
Past performance doesn't say anything meaningful about future performance, after all they have new overlords now.

Re:WTF? (3, Interesting)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371524)

Blizzard is a big enough tail to wag the dog methinks.

Considering the huge amounts of money they rake in on one title alone...

And Blizzard has a lot to lose. I am quite a pirate. I never buy a game unless I've tried it. The reason for this is that so many games look spiffy but turn out to suck.

Not so with blizzard. I buy blizzard games without pirating first as I know they will be excellent. I've bought Starcraft 2-3 times due to losing the cds/keys during apartment moves but I dont mind. Same with Warcraft 3.. Now imagine if their next game sucked. I suspect they would see a lot less loyalty and a whole lot more piracy.

Though, if anyone can fuck it up, activision... well....fuck...I'll start making a spiffy tombstone :-p

Re:WTF? (1)

MaximumFrost (1156629) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371720)

Good thing Blizzard is managed separately from Activision, huh? The two companies only share an owner, both are independent from each other (Thank God).

I know there's a few out there putting hate on Blizzard for the 3 part SC2 thing, but it has been mentioned before that they plan to price them as expansions, not full games. People get uppity over the smallest things...

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31372580)

bingo.

COD MMO is on the horizon.

Also, why do you think Starcraft2 suddenly became 3 games?

A great lesson (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370596)

This should be a quite instructive case for small developers and individuals who might be tempted to sell out to a major studio, foolishly thinking it will only make their product better and that they won't get screwed in the end.

Re:A great lesson (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370876)

Or not. Without Activision they might just still be a pair of broke, anonymous game devs like they were in the first place. Sure, you would like to have it both ways - use the resources of a big company to produce big-budget AAA titles that rake in tons of cash, but then keep it all for yourself and not owe them anything. But it doesn't work that way.

Why are publishers so brain-dead? (1)

DavidR1991 (1047748) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370636)

I never understand it when publishers want to kill the original creators and just flood the market with games under the same brand. Yeah, sure, it'll probably pick up a quick buck in the short term (for people who hang onto the brand). But once the gamers cotton onto the fact that all the new games suck (as they invariably will) they'll stop buying. So it's short term gain (most likely) and long term loss/failure

Whereas, if they keep the original creators they don't get the short term "insta-cash". But they get continual quality and therefore a more dependable revenue stream. I just don't get the mind set of publishers when they favor the former solution. Are they really that stupid?

Re:Why are publishers so brain-dead? (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370918)

So by your theory, in what decade did Madden NFL stop making money?

Re:Why are publishers so brain-dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31372328)

Madden NFL is a fluke. It's the ONLY yearly game franchise that makes more money every year. It's a huge cash cow that every publisher wants to replicate, but they can't because no other game franchise can possible maintain popularity despite yearly sequels/updates.

Look at what Activision did to Guitar Hero and is trying to do to Call of Duty.

Look at what Ubisoft did to Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six.

For some reason that nobody can exactly define, Madden NFL defies the laws of economics and makes EA massive profits on an annual basis. Activision and Ubisoft have shown they don't care how many of their brands they have to destroy to do it, they just want in on the action.

Re:Why are publishers so brain-dead? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372680)

Look at what Activision did to Guitar Hero and is trying to do to Call of Duty.

What did Activision do wrong with Guitar Hero? Fads come and go, there's nothing Activision could have done to make Guitar Hero stay on top forever. Besides, it's a content-dependent game; you get sick of playing the same few songs over and over, so frequent additional releases are necessary. And since not everybody likes the same music, it also makes perfect sense to release more versions in a given year than any single person could be expected to buy, just as music labels don't expect any single person to buy every album they release. Could they somehow have made a better guitar hero had they concentrated their efforts into a smaller number of titles? I don't see how; the game premise is pretty simple.

Re:Why are publishers so brain-dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31371062)

I never understand it when publishers want to kill the original creators and just flood the market with games under the same brand. Yeah, sure, it'll probably pick up a quick buck in the short term (for people who hang onto the brand). But once the gamers cotton onto the fact that all the new games suck (as they invariably will) they'll stop buying. So it's short term gain (most likely) and long term loss/failure

Whereas, if they keep the original creators they don't get the short term "insta-cash". But they get continual quality and therefore a more dependable revenue stream. I just don't get the mind set of publishers when they favor the former solution. Are they really that stupid?

If you can make 4 Billion in 3 years by over-exploiting your own franchies versus maybe making 4 Billion or more spread out over 10 years in smaller payouts. Would you go for the long term option?

There's always going to be an idiot consumer market, the people who buy stuff based soley on brandname alone the trick is keeping them faithfull. If Activision can find new franchises to exploit faster than they can over-exploit them they could be here for a long time. I don't like Bobby Kotick or his ideas on how to run a good publisher, but you have to hand it to him, he is pretty good at what he does.

Re:Why are publishers so brain-dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31371510)

Considering what it is Kotick actually does, I don't feel obliged to hand him anything.

Except maybe a primed grenade.

Re:Why are publishers so brain-dead? (1)

Asclepius99 (1527727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371170)

What I find even more astounding is that gaming companies don't seem to understand that customers don't only think about brands in terms of titles for specific games (Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, etc.) but that we also think about brand in terms of the company that produces it (Acitivision Blizzard, EA, etc.). If they start making a bunch of low quality CoD games, customers will keep that in mind when looking at other Activision franchises. If you can build yourself up as a reputable game studio that always puts a lot of effort into their games then customers are going to be more likely to try new things (not just established franchise sequels) you produce than if you're known for corner-cutting and churning out sequels/spin-offs just for the cash.

Are bankers really so brain-dead? (1)

twokay (979515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371236)

I think we all know the answer to that.

Its all about maximum profit in the shortest amount of time. If you can make 500 million running a game into the ground the publisher doest care, they made 500 million pumping out a generic video game by riding on the success and innovation of someone else. Its pure profit. Sure you need something new to run into the ground after 3-5 years, but by that time all the execs got their bonuses and everyone* is happy.

*everyone making money

Good luck to all those showing Activision the.. (2, Informative)

twokay (979515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31370736)

..finger.

I was beginning to think that the IW owners and developers had sold out completely, and if MW2 was any sign of things to come in the COD franchise, it would be hard to argue otherwise.
But at least this shows that some of them aren't willing to be completely screwed over, and restores some of my faith in the core IW guys.

Ha-lo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31370930)

How has no one mentioned the Halo line?

Halo 1, 2, 3, ODST, Wars, and now Reach. All which seem to have been quite successful despite the overuse of the series.

Asking a question about servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31371694)

As anonymous coward, with a score of 0.

Could Activision be forced to take down the servers due to legal action (Not paying the developers)? If so, what happens to CoD:MW2?

As a scorned PC gamer... (1)

dr_wheel (671305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31371762)

... allow me to say, good for them. They really put the screws to the PC community with Modern Warfare 2.

Infinity Ward sold their souls a long time ago. Zampella and West, I hope Bobby Kotick rapes your franchise for the next decade or two. Karma is a bitch, boys.

Teabag games (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372730)

Activision is what I tend to call teabag games. That is, take the idea for a game being to a game like a teabag for a cup of tea. You take a fresh one out of the box, you brew your tea, and it will be good. Likewise, you take a fresh idea out of your head and turn it into a game, it will be good.

Thinking that the same bag of tea leaves will give you another good cup of tea, since it did it once before, is maybe an idea that springs to your mind, but it is about as wrong as it could be.

Like teabags make one good cup of tea, game ideas make one good game. You can of course use the same blend that gave you a great cup of tea, but you have to break open another bag of tea and use this. Not the one you already used. That one is spent and its flavour was poured into your first cup of tea. Likewise, the same general formula will allow you to make another good game, but you still have to invest into another bag of tea.

I hope they win (1)

CherniyVolk (513591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372848)

First, the new CoD MW2 is nice. But there are some major issues with this game regarding multiplayer.

First, bring back dedicated servers. If I decide to join a server hosted in Bahrain, from San Diego, yeah... lag. Nothing is worse than blatant interruption of game play, I'd rather play throw lag than be interrupted for long periods of time waiting for host migration, connecting to new host, waiting for other players... 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.... just because someone decided to leave. The time wasted waiting to continue far exceeds even the time loss dealing with noticable lag from a dedicated server. Not to mention the heavy negative of being outright interrupted.

They have destroyed the community values of FPS games with this new system. With Unreal Tournament, there were a handful of servers I went to, constantly. Handles became familiar, even considering regulars as friends. Clans used to be stronger, more prevalent... a bit harder to do in CoD MW2. I can't help to notice a dramatic reduction in Clan Tags in CoD MW2, but this only reflects the total destruction of social aspect of the game as no social congregations can be made reliably and every round is full of strangers you haven't seen before, and may never see again. Yes, I know about friends list, I know you can try to jimmy the distribution and I have seen clan tags in CoD... just no where near as much.

Also, where are the custom maps? What was ridiculously boring about other CoDs was the lack of wide use of custom maps. Unreal Tournament, full of custom maps, anyone remember the giant maps... of like an office... chair was 100 feet tall? Man, those were the best.

Anyways, I couldn't care less for CoD MW2. If they die and never release another game I figure that's a good thing.

They need to bring back dedicated servers, what they are doing now sucks ass. There's no social glue with the game, so when I finally get bored of the maps why play anymore? On the other hand, Unreal Tournament some servers only had one map, but I continued to play because friends and familiar people played on that server too; some where considered 'home' for friendly clans... etc etc. Here, it's just pure insanity and stupidity, why play?

Some people like this new crap network arch they have going on. I think they haven't really thought about it thoroughly, maybe they are stupid, maybe they can't think further ahead than five minutes, maybe they are just dumb.

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