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Activision Axes Franchises, Reveals Studios In Earnings Call

Guitar Hero is taking a break, we'll see a Spider-Man game in 2011, a new Call of Duty studio was announced, and more!

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.
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Posted by BradNicholson
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.
Posted by Chris2KLee

Goddamn blood bath.

Posted by Jeffsekai

GOOD

Posted by zus

so what happens to neversoft? axed?!

Posted by blueduck

"Call of Duty: Premium Member"

Posted by Malakhii

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. 

Posted by TehFlan

Spider Man is pretty cool.

Posted by DystopiaX

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.

Posted by DT9k

DJ Hero 3, nooooooooooooo!

Posted by masternater27

RIP guitar hero.

Posted by wolf_blitzer85

Damn they're dropping like flies. 

Posted by RecSpec
 Also, a new Family Guy game     
 
Hmm...I think I'd much rather have another Guitar Hero game.
Posted by Hailinel

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

Posted by Lepuke

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

Posted by Milkman

This Call of Duty stuff is really scary. 

Posted by RobbieMac

Activision love their green.

Posted by 02sfraser

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.

Posted by Skald

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.

Edited by AngriGhandi

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

Online
Posted by HibikiRush

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

Posted by fazzle

"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
Posted by Bloodgraiv3

goddamnit. 
Online
Posted by MrKlorox

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

Posted by lordofultima

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!

Posted by SpacePenguin

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

Posted by Evilsbane

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.

Posted by MeatSim

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

Posted by Afroman269

Dj hero...... :(

Posted by captainanderson

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

Posted by TomA

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

Posted by Siphillis

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

Posted by JerichoBlyth

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

Posted by zitosilva

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

Posted by notsonic

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?

Posted by Vonocourt
@Afroman269 said:
" Dj hero...... :( "
Yep, bummer.
Posted by ExplodingTuba

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. 

Posted by Winsord

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.

Posted by S0ndor

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

Posted by SleepyDoughnut

You're a bad person Bobby Kotick.

Posted by blueaniman93

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

Posted by Ben_H

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

Posted by SSully

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. 

Posted by AnjinM

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.
Posted by Seedofpower

Oh shit that is a lot of people!

Posted by TheYear20XX
@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"?
Posted by KeepThisKoupon

oh noes. no guitar heroes

Posted by Afroman269

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.

Posted by Seanakin66

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.

Posted by Solh0und

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

Posted by Ghost407

Fuck subscription based COD!

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