Activision Axes Franchises, Reveals Studios In Earnings Call

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Posted by BradNicholson (812 posts) -
Activision just finished up with a monster of an investor conference call that had a few surprises and meaningful bits snuggled in between the hardcore financial talk. This call in particular had a lot buzz going in. Just an hour or so prior, reports were sneaking out about the publisher’s decision to can Guitar Hero and, surprisingly, True Crime: Hong Kong, which has been demoed to press several times. 

Turns out those reports were basically accurate. Here’s the run-down:

BEACHHEAD  
Activision has created a new wholly owned studio to focus on Call of Duty content and support what could become a pay-for subscription platform for the shooter’s robust and ever-growing community. I’m not 100-percent certain of any of this, though, due to the ridiculous amount of marketing talk. Here’s Activision CEO Bobby Kotick’s take on what Beachhead, the studio and the project, is, via Joystiq:

"Beachhead will create the best-in-class online community, exclusive content, and a suite of services to supercharge the online gaming experience like never before. The platform will support in-game integration and bring online experiences and console play together for the first time. The platform has been in development for over a year and we're very excited about the increased value we can bring to the community. We look forward to sharing more specifics on this exciting new endeavor with you in the near future." 

   
 
   
 
== TEASER ==COD: BLOPS 
The Microsoft "exclusively first" window on Call of Duty: Black Ops DLC is toast on March 3, 2011. This is the date when the game's first map pack, "First Strike," will appear on PSN for an unspecified price. You can grab a first look at this particular version over at the PS blog right now.
 
GUITAR HERO AND DJ HERO  
Sales in the music genre have flatlined and, to be frank, Activision hasn’t been giving us what we’ve wanted with its most recent Guitar Hero titles, so it’s no real surprise that the publisher is giving the franchise a break. In a statement that preceded the call, Activision confirmed that it is disbanding “the Guitar Hero business unit” and no longer working on the title it had slated for 2011. 

The wording here suggests that the franchise as a whole is being put to bed for much longer than a year. It’s not easy working on a game with as many licensing hurdles as a Guitar Hero has to jump over without a dedicated business unit. We’ll have to see what’s up over time.

Also, as for DJ Hero, Activision has stated that no music games will be coming in 2011, so don’t be expecting that 3DS title anytime soon, either.

 
   
 
TRUE CRIME: HONG KONG  

United Front Games’ True Crime installment has indeed been canned. According to Activision, part of the reasoning of this decision is “based on the desire to focus on the greatest opportunities that the company currently has to create the world’s best interactive entertainment experiences.” Read: Call of Duty. 

To be fair, TC: Hong Kong was an ambitious open-world action game filled with more than your usual Grand Theft Auto. United Front was attempting to build a game that had a little bit of everything, and the roughness around the edges as a result showed at some previous demos. 

In a statement on its Web site, the developer apologized about not being able to finish the game with Activision and said it’s setting its “creative sights on a different horizon.”   

 
  
 
TONY HAWK  

Like Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk is getting a break in 2011. The last two games with his name on it required that lovely plastic skateboard peripheral and were massive sales flops. "We will release no new music or skateboarding games in 2011,” Activision COO Thomas Tippl said during the call. 
 
BUNGIE AND BLIZZARD'S NEW STUFF
Don't expect to play a completed version of the Bungie project in 2011. As revealed during the call, the game isn't slated to release this year. Also, Activision isn't counting on Blizzard to get Diablo III or the next StarCraft II game to get out the door in 2011 either.

 
  
 
TV, COMICS, AND MOVIE-BASED PROPERTIES  

In Q4 2011, you’ll get another Spider-Man game created by the folks at Beenox who were responsible for Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Also, a new Family Guy game, a Wipeout game, and apparently an X-Men and a Transformers game are slated, too.   


  
 
So, yeah, overall, money was made and it appears as if Activision will be leveraging the usual stuff: Call of Duty, its movie tie-ins, and World of Warcraft in the near future. I think that about sums it up. Anyone surprised by any of this news? 
 
UPDATE: Added in the Black Ops release date stuff and noted the Bungie and Blizzard news that came via the investor call.
#1 Posted by BradNicholson (812 posts) -
Activision just finished up with a monster of an investor conference call that had a few surprises and meaningful bits snuggled in between the hardcore financial talk. This call in particular had a lot buzz going in. Just an hour or so prior, reports were sneaking out about the publisher’s decision to can Guitar Hero and, surprisingly, True Crime: Hong Kong, which has been demoed to press several times. 

Turns out those reports were basically accurate. Here’s the run-down:

BEACHHEAD  
Activision has created a new wholly owned studio to focus on Call of Duty content and support what could become a pay-for subscription platform for the shooter’s robust and ever-growing community. I’m not 100-percent certain of any of this, though, due to the ridiculous amount of marketing talk. Here’s Activision CEO Bobby Kotick’s take on what Beachhead, the studio and the project, is, via Joystiq:

"Beachhead will create the best-in-class online community, exclusive content, and a suite of services to supercharge the online gaming experience like never before. The platform will support in-game integration and bring online experiences and console play together for the first time. The platform has been in development for over a year and we're very excited about the increased value we can bring to the community. We look forward to sharing more specifics on this exciting new endeavor with you in the near future." 

   
 
   
 
== TEASER ==COD: BLOPS 
The Microsoft "exclusively first" window on Call of Duty: Black Ops DLC is toast on March 3, 2011. This is the date when the game's first map pack, "First Strike," will appear on PSN for an unspecified price. You can grab a first look at this particular version over at the PS blog right now.
 
GUITAR HERO AND DJ HERO  
Sales in the music genre have flatlined and, to be frank, Activision hasn’t been giving us what we’ve wanted with its most recent Guitar Hero titles, so it’s no real surprise that the publisher is giving the franchise a break. In a statement that preceded the call, Activision confirmed that it is disbanding “the Guitar Hero business unit” and no longer working on the title it had slated for 2011. 

The wording here suggests that the franchise as a whole is being put to bed for much longer than a year. It’s not easy working on a game with as many licensing hurdles as a Guitar Hero has to jump over without a dedicated business unit. We’ll have to see what’s up over time.

Also, as for DJ Hero, Activision has stated that no music games will be coming in 2011, so don’t be expecting that 3DS title anytime soon, either.

 
   
 
TRUE CRIME: HONG KONG  

United Front Games’ True Crime installment has indeed been canned. According to Activision, part of the reasoning of this decision is “based on the desire to focus on the greatest opportunities that the company currently has to create the world’s best interactive entertainment experiences.” Read: Call of Duty. 

To be fair, TC: Hong Kong was an ambitious open-world action game filled with more than your usual Grand Theft Auto. United Front was attempting to build a game that had a little bit of everything, and the roughness around the edges as a result showed at some previous demos. 

In a statement on its Web site, the developer apologized about not being able to finish the game with Activision and said it’s setting its “creative sights on a different horizon.”   

 
  
 
TONY HAWK  

Like Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk is getting a break in 2011. The last two games with his name on it required that lovely plastic skateboard peripheral and were massive sales flops. "We will release no new music or skateboarding games in 2011,” Activision COO Thomas Tippl said during the call. 
 
BUNGIE AND BLIZZARD'S NEW STUFF
Don't expect to play a completed version of the Bungie project in 2011. As revealed during the call, the game isn't slated to release this year. Also, Activision isn't counting on Blizzard to get Diablo III or the next StarCraft II game to get out the door in 2011 either.

 
  
 
TV, COMICS, AND MOVIE-BASED PROPERTIES  

In Q4 2011, you’ll get another Spider-Man game created by the folks at Beenox who were responsible for Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Also, a new Family Guy game, a Wipeout game, and apparently an X-Men and a Transformers game are slated, too.   


  
 
So, yeah, overall, money was made and it appears as if Activision will be leveraging the usual stuff: Call of Duty, its movie tie-ins, and World of Warcraft in the near future. I think that about sums it up. Anyone surprised by any of this news? 
 
UPDATE: Added in the Black Ops release date stuff and noted the Bungie and Blizzard news that came via the investor call.
#2 Posted by Chris2KLee (2332 posts) -

Goddamn blood bath.

#3 Posted by Jeffsekai (7027 posts) -

GOOD

#4 Posted by zus (67 posts) -

so what happens to neversoft? axed?!

#5 Posted by blueduck (964 posts) -

"Call of Duty: Premium Member"

#6 Posted by Malakhii (1443 posts) -

A family guy game... the horror... THE HORROR! The last transformers game was pretty cool though, If the same guys are making it, then that's pretty good news in my book. 

#7 Posted by TehFlan (1944 posts) -

Spider Man is pretty cool.

#8 Posted by DystopiaX (5297 posts) -

So..acti now carried by blizzards mandatory 2 game releases by end of 2012 (most likely diablo, wow or scii expansion), and cod...not surprising. Wonder how long that can keep up though.

#9 Posted by DT9k (117 posts) -

DJ Hero 3, nooooooooooooo!

#10 Posted by masternater27 (918 posts) -

RIP guitar hero.

#11 Posted by wolf_blitzer85 (5253 posts) -

Damn they're dropping like flies. 

#12 Posted by RecSpec (3798 posts) -
 Also, a new Family Guy game     
 
Hmm...I think I'd much rather have another Guitar Hero game.
#13 Posted by Hailinel (24284 posts) -

No Tony Hawk games.
No ______ Hero games.
Call of Duty all day, every day.

Online
#14 Posted by Lepuke (327 posts) -

So basically... Harmonix wins!
And the people rejoiced...

#15 Posted by Milkman (16618 posts) -

This Call of Duty stuff is really scary. 

#16 Posted by RobbieMac (534 posts) -

Activision love their green.

#17 Posted by 02sfraser (847 posts) -

Their milk a IP dry business model has totally come and bitten them in the ass. I don't feel sorry for them, only the employees that have lost their jobs due to their creativity being limited to one franchise for so long.

#18 Posted by Skald (4367 posts) -

Activision can't be too happy about this. Guitar Hero was a huge source of revenue for them. So was Tony Hawk, back in the day. 
 
I guess it falls upon Blizzard to pick up the slack.

#19 Edited by AngriGhandi (772 posts) -

Actually, the new family guy game is just an iPhone app where you control the manatees.
It also updates your facebook constantly, because synergy

#20 Posted by HibikiRush (151 posts) -

Will this new subscription system let me unlock the "Master Sergeant Shooter Sergeant Person" rank?

#21 Posted by fazzle (302 posts) -

"Shit man, we've milked Tony Hawk and music games too hard!  They're dead!  What should we do now?" 
 
"I know, let's milk Call of Duty even harder! 
 

 Kotick on the left
#22 Posted by Bloodgraiv3 (2712 posts) -

goddamnit. 
#23 Posted by MrKlorox (11209 posts) -

Sucks about True Crime. I was actually interested in giving it a try with the new studio behind it.

#24 Posted by lordofultima (6230 posts) -

United Front Games being closed down? That's fucked up man. I was actually looking forward to True Crime: Hong Kong, it wasn't that far off from release!

#25 Posted by SpacePenguin (476 posts) -

Man, I was actualy lookin forward to True Crime, well I guess this is just another reason to hate Activion.

#26 Posted by Evilsbane (4582 posts) -

AND they are finally going to kill CoD MP, about time, you've killed all your other franchises might as well destroy the only one left that anyone gives a shit about.

#27 Posted by MeatSim (10818 posts) -

No more Tony Hawk or Guitar Hero for a while. Seems like a win to me.

#28 Posted by Afroman269 (7387 posts) -

Dj hero...... :(

#29 Posted by captainanderson (258 posts) -

"Supercharge the online gaming experience like never before.  " 
 
Haha, Freudian slip much, Bobby?

#30 Posted by TomA (2531 posts) -

If they milk Call of Duty's any more then her tits are going to rip off.

#31 Posted by Siphillis (1291 posts) -

Suppose there are severe development woes with this year's Call of Duty game.  What on Earth can Activision wage their bets on now?

#32 Posted by JerichoBlyth (1044 posts) -

Hmmm...
 
Hope the talented rats are ready to leave.

#33 Posted by zitosilva (1839 posts) -

I have a feeling this here marks the beginning of the decline for Call of Duty.

#34 Posted by notsonic (212 posts) -

activision seems to only put out shit games, rerelease call of duty 4, and negatively influence blizzard.

why are they the number one publisher again?

#35 Posted by Vonocourt (2125 posts) -
@Afroman269 said:
" Dj hero...... :( "
Yep, bummer.
#36 Posted by ExplodingTuba (90 posts) -

Jesus, who could have thought that Activision could utterly stop so many franchises. This is a real bummer for anyone who who enjoyed these franchises. 

#37 Posted by Winsord (1201 posts) -

Quite simply, if Call of Duty becomes a pay-to-play thing, I'll either stick with the old Call of Duty games, or movie series. As much as I like Call of Duty, there's no way I'm putting myself in a position where I'm paying monthly-fee to Activision.

#38 Posted by S0ndor (2716 posts) -

They've run both Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk into the ground and now they will do the same to CoD.

#39 Posted by SleepyDoughnut (1208 posts) -

You're a bad person Bobby Kotick.

#40 Posted by blueaniman93 (604 posts) -

at least we get another spiderman game from beenox 
shattered dimensions was alright 

#41 Posted by Ben_H (3336 posts) -

The Old Yeller treatment in full effect today. 
 
RIP Tony Hawk games, you were good for the first 5 iterations.

#42 Posted by SSully (4148 posts) -

I mean this is horrible news for the people who worked on those titles, but seriously who didn't see this coming? Tony Hawk and the "*music* Hero" games have been selling less and less with each passing year. If activision maybe released a new game every 2 years for these brands they would be better off. But no, they shoved them down our throats year, after year, after year, and now no one wants anything to do with it.  
 
I am glad i wont be seeing most of these games this year, but God do I feel for the devs who just got canned because of this. I wish them all the best of luck, its a shame they got stuck with such evil publisher. 

#43 Posted by AnjinM (108 posts) -

This may be bad, but the $#!+ doesn't hit the fan until Blizzard has to share their IPs with some second tier developer so that we can get annualized Warcrafts and Diablos.
#44 Posted by Seedofpower (3928 posts) -

Oh shit that is a lot of people!

#45 Posted by TheYear20XX (425 posts) -
@captainanderson said:
" "Supercharge the online gaming experience like never before.  "  Haha, Freudian slip much, Bobby? "
How hard do you think it was for him to resist saying "surcharge"?
#46 Posted by KeepThisKoupon (94 posts) -

oh noes. no guitar heroes

#47 Posted by Afroman269 (7387 posts) -

Wow this shift to nearly just all CoD is ridiculous. Giving that franchise the Guitar Hero treatment isn't the way, we will probably see the exact same thing happen to this franchise in the next couple of years.

#48 Posted by Seanakin66 (157 posts) -

I hope that ATVI realizes that eventually, they WILL need to commit to some serious R&D once all their bankable franchises are all run into the ground.  Sure, they could try to go with the tried-and0true acquisition route, but it's possible they'd find other people not so willing to accept their tainted coin after spades of development gulags, withered franchises and shuttered studios.  Makes me think Bungie's exactly where they deserve to be.

#49 Posted by Solh0und (1763 posts) -

Shame about DJ hero. That had great potential too...

#50 Posted by Ghost407 (166 posts) -

Fuck subscription based COD!

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