Acti's negative rep not based in "reality"

Publisher defends studio closures.

It's been open season on Activision of late, what with a string of studio closures and a steady stream of gamer-baiting soundbites from CEO/industry boogeyman Bobby Kotick.

However, the controversial publisher has insisted that consumers have got it all wrong.

Speaking in an interview with IndustryGamers, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg explained, "I have Google, just like everybody else, and I'm of course aware of what the reputation is amongst core gamers, and there's a narrative that I think has taken over reality to a certain extent."

Hirshberg then compared Activision's current situation to that of the PlayStation 3 a few years ago. Consumers originally poured scorn on Sony's new console but have since come around.

"If you go back in a time machine and read the general tenor in the blogosphere a couple of years ago about Sony PlayStation, it sounds a lot like what people are saying about Activision today.

"There's a lot of disappointment in the PS3, and it was overpriced, and they've given up on the core gamer, and Sony Blu-ray... all those complaints were out there. It takes time sometimes to win people's hearts and minds.

"I was a part of helping them turn around that image through the marketing of PlayStation, but also perception caught up with the reality," he explained. "The reality is they put out a pretty great product and the versatility has become one of the key selling points, even with core gamers.

"My point is you've got to stay on the train, because the scenery changes."

But what of all those studio closures and high-profile sackings? Can Activision really expect gamers to forgive it for Bizarre Creations, for Red Octane, for BudCat, for Infinity Ward? Well, Hirshberg insisted that any restructuring that the publisher has gone through was 100 per cent necessary.

"Even though it's a tough business and even though you've got to do what you've got to do from a business standpoint, you never do the kind of things you've listed lightly," he insisted.

"They are excruciating decisions, particularly when there are talented people involved and we're in a talented people business. That's all video games are, a reflection of the work of talented people.

"We do everything we can to make the relationships with our developers work, and to find a commercially viable use of their talents, and it's only when we've exhausted every other opportunity that the things that you've described happen.

"I want to make sure that comes across, because it really is true. We don't ever make those kinds of decisions in a cavalier fashion, I can assure you of that."

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About the author

Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton

Contributor

Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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