Being Michael Pachter • Page 2

"I use the press. I set out to use the press."

Eurogamer: Will Respawn Entertainment do well?

Michael Pachter: Well, who knows what they're going to do? In a way they only really know how to do one kind of game, and they do it well. Even though they're holding open the possibility they might do some kind of other type of game, the idea that they've already poached [35] people from Infinity Ward suggests strongly to me that they're going to do a military-style shooter.

If I were a betting man I'd say they would take Halo on. Just a guess. I promise you, I asked them point-blank and they said, "We don't know." And I believe them, I really do. They said, "We're going to wait until we hire a team, we have everybody in a room and we're going to sit around and brainstorm and come up with great ideas for games."

I believe that is their current intention. But as a gambling man I'd say if you put together guys who have only ever made shooters and you want to take the military shooter to the next evolution - because now that Battlefield and Medal of Honor and Modern Warfare are out there, why would you want to do a fourth? - why not go space? Honestly, no one does it well.

I guess there are games like Red Faction, but it's really Halo and nothing else. And the idea that their timing is very likely two full years from now is perfect, because we're going to have Halo: Reach come out in the fall and then we will have nothing the following year. I just think that would be the kind of game that would make a lot of sense. That would be my big prediction. And I can honestly tell you that won't affect the stock of any company I cover. I'm just saying it because it's fun to say. It's logic.

kotick

"I can't remember ever saying anything like - and I'm saying this as a joke - 'Bobby Kotick is an idiot'."

And how do I think they'll do? I can't recall them ever getting a score under 85 per cent. So they'll put out a game that gets 85-to-95 per cent and it will sell really well because it will be in a genre they understand and it will have EA's marketing muscle behind it. "Really well" as in 6m-10m units, not like 20m - nothing is going to sell 20m again except probably GTA. But they'll do fine, and good for them and good for EA.

This lawsuit that was just filed, I haven't read it yet, but that just makes Activision look bad again. And EA is trying to spin it; EA who just fired 2600 people is trying to spin itself as the great employer. And Activision, which all they allegedly did was withhold royalties from 39 employees, is the new evil empire. But that's fun. I actually asked Vince and Jason, first question I asked them, "How does it feel now that you've left the evil empire to be working for the former evil empire?" They laughed and said EA was great.

Eurogamer: Do you ever get it completely wrong?

Michael Pachter: All the time. All the time. But who cares? I'm glad you asked that question. It's not my job to induce investors to do something, to compel them to action. That's not my job. My job is to make them better informed so they can make better-informed decisions. It would be naive of me and extremely arrogant of me to believe that I'm the only person that they would ever speak to and I'm the only source of data they would ever have.

My worst call probably in the last five years was heading into holiday. I said that GameStop was going to crush the quarter; that they were going to kill it and that expectations were too low. I thought the driver would be things like Call of Duty, as [GameStop] get a lot more copies. What I didn't anticipate was that Walmart was going to compete on price on hardware, and I was really surprised when Walmart stole a bunch of market share from GameStop and killed them. I was what we call 'pounding the table' saying, "You have to buy GameStop," in front of earnings. And it was a horrible call. But I don't feel like anybody lost their house because of what I told them.

bully

"Take-Two tried to make me feel guilty when I said I thought Bully was a stupid game and wouldn't sell well."

Eurogamer: When the notes you write are turned into news and the company in question is forced to issue a statement or to respond, do you get in trouble?

Michael Pachter: I really don't care. It depends on what the context is. The only time I ever really got embarrassed was on a Bonus Round of [GameTrailers TV] with Geoff Keighley about the PSPgo price. He said, "What do you think of the $249 price?" I said, "It's really high." He said, "So you think Sony's ripping off the consumer?" And I said, "Yeah, yeah, they're ripping off the consumer." And it was in the headlines: "Pachter says Sony ripping off consumer." Sony called me and said, "How dare you say that?!" I directed them to the video and said, "You know, actually Geoff Keighley said it and I said yes." But I still felt like I needed to apologise because it felt a bit harsh.

With publishers I couldn't care less about Activision or EA because I don't say things that are inflammatory. Take-Two tried to make me feel guilty when I said I thought Bully was a stupid game and wouldn't sell well. They called me up to say, "How dare you say that?!" I go, "It's my opinion. It looks completely stupid to me." I go, "Who wants to be a 16-year-old loser kid who's picked on by other kids?" I really thought it was the dumbest idea I had seen for a game. And when it sold well they sent me an email like, "See, I told you, you were wrong." And I'm like, "Yep, wrong all the time. As in, f*** you, I don't give a s***."

I get asked a question, "Do you think there will be console exclusives in the future?" And I say, "No, I don't." I get lots of people saying, "Oh what an idiot - he doesn't even know The Agent's coming out!" It's not like I don't know about The Agent; of course I know that game is coming out. I also know the story of why the Agent is coming out exclusively on the PS3.

agent

"And Sony - I'm not sure if they had a firm agreement but they may have had a handshake - said to Take-Two, 'You've got to give us something else.'"

Or if I get asked point blank if I thought Gears of War would have sold better multi-platform. I'm like, "Yes! And I think Epic regrets it." And Mark Rein pops up and, "Oh we never regret anything we do." Mark Rein and I are friends. You know what? If I could demonstrate to the Epic guys that they would have made more money multi-platform, all-in including the funding they got from Microsoft, they would say, "Shoot, we regret that." In my opinion they would have made more money multi-platform. But who cares if I'm wrong? We'll never know.

I can't remember ever saying anything like - and I'm saying this as a joke - "Bobby Kotick is an idiot". I don't say stuff like that. If I said "Bobby Kotick is an idiot" and you printed it and Activision called me and was mad, I would be apologetic because it would be the wrong thing to say.

I don't say things like "Activision is greedy". Activision is blowing it with the Infinity Ward guys, but Activision is managing a business and they made a conscious decision that it was better for those guys to leave than to keep them and have them be unhappy. That's a business decision. And the other thing is I don't hold anybody on a pedestal; I truly do believe everybody is replaceable. Everybody.

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