Tag Archives: activision

Analysts believe publishers to raise prices of games for next-gen

A new report from games researching firm IDG claims that multiple publishers are reportedly discussing raising the standard prices of next-generation games beginning this fall.

Standard editions of games have always been $59.99 since 2006, when the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation began, and has not changed since then. In that same time period, developmental costs of games has risen 100-200% for new IPs, large franchises, and more. In those same years, costs of Netflix, Amazon services, and more have steadily increased and reacted to market trends, while gaming prices have remained the same.

“Even with the increase to $69.99 for next-gen, that price increase from 2005 to 2020 next-gen is only up 17%, far lower than the other comparisons. While the cost of development and publishing have gone up, and pricing in other entertainment verticals has also gone up substantially, next-gen software pricing has not reflected these increases. $59.99 to $69.99 does not even cover these other cost increases completely, but does move it more in the proper direction.”

The first next-generation game to announce their price was Take Two with NBA2K 21. The company announced on July 2 that the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of the new game will cost $69.99, a $10 spike compared to standard $59.99.

This could potentially be a standard for next gen, IDG predicts based on conversations with some publishers already.

He continues: “IDG works with all major game publishers, and our channel checks indicate that other publishers are also exploring moving their next-gen pricing up on certain franchises, for the same reasons outlined above.

“Not every game should garner the $69.99 price point on next-gen, but flagship AAAs such as NBA 2K merit this pricing more than others.”

Many companies are offering free next-gen upgrades for games that are releasing cross generation this fall for free, either through the platform’s services or by offering cross buy.

Activision has not announced any of their next generation plans yet. Call of Duty 2020 is expected to be a launch title for PS5 and Xbox Series X. The last generation, transitioning from Xbox 360 and PS3 to PS4 and Xbox One, the company offered upgrade options – eventually free to players.

SOURCE: GamesIndustry

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CNBC: AT&T reportedly looking to sell Warner gaming division, Activision interested

According to a new report from CNBC, AT&T is looking to sell off Warner Bros Entertainment’s gaming division for approximately $4 billion.

AT&T acquired Time Warner a few years back for $109 billion and has added the entirety of Warner Bros to their portfolio family, including renaming parts of the Warner Bro division to Warner Media.

CNBC reports that AT&T is seeking buyers to take the gaming division, which has developed games based on the Warner Bros IP, including Harry Potter, Mortal Kombat, Batman, and more games.

Based on their report, Activision Blizzard, alongside EA and Take Two, have all expressed interest in buying the gaming division from AT&T. A deal is not imminent, however.

Take-Two Interactive Software, Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard have all expressed interest in buying the gaming division, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. No deal is assured or imminent, two of the people said.

The report also claims that since majority of the games Warner’s gaming division makes is around their IP, the company which does purchase the division will enter a potential IP licensing agreement with AT&T to continue to develop games based on Warner’s property.

No deal is finalized or close to be announced, so this is all subject to change.

SOURCE: CNBC

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Activision Blizzard shareholders unhappy with CEO Bobby Kotick’s compensation

A shareholder group of Activision Blizzard has filed a statement to the US Government asking other Activision Blizzard shareholders to vote to deny the Management Pay on the company’s June 11 shareholder meeting because the CEO, Bobby Kotick, is making too much money per year.

The shareholder group, CtW Investment Groups’ director Dieter Waizenegger, said in a statement that the salary of Kotick is much higher than that of other CEOs in the same industry.

Kotick makes around $30 million per year, before an additional $20 million in stock equity options.

“Despite repeated low approval votes from shareholders, Activision Blizzard maintains multiple, overlapping opportunities for its CEO to earn outsize equity awards, even when performance-related vesting thresholds have not been met,” the note says. “Despite failing to disclose pertinent information on performance targets for its Short Term Incentive Plan, Activision Blizzard’s proxy statement reveals significant human capital management challenges.”

Per the released statement, Kotick has made $96 million from stock equity options in the last four years alone, on top of his yearly average salary of $30 million, which is much higher than CEOs in the gaming industry and in the entertainment industry.

“Specifically, over the past four years, Kotick has received $96.5 million cumulatively in combined stock/option awards alone,” he said. “In just 2019, he received over $28 million in combined equity, primarily consisting of options (over $20 million) that are substantially ‘in the money.’ While equity grants that exceed the total pay of peer companies would be objectionable in most circumstances, it is of special concern in this case because Activision Blizzard employees face job insecurity following layoffs of 800 employees in 2019, and typically earn less than 1/3 of 1% of the CEO’s earnings, with some employees, such as Junior Developers, making less than $40,000 a year while living in high-cost areas such as southern California.”

The shareholder group says that the high pay is “problematic” and is asking other shareholders to vote no on the motion to keep the pay at that level in the next shareholder meeting on June 11, 2020.

An Activision Blizzard spokesperson issued a statement to GameSpot defending the CEO’s pay, saying that he has lifted the company from a value of just $10 million to $53 billion during his tenure of CEO.

“During Mr. Kotick’s tenure–which is the longest of any CEO of a public technology company–Activision Blizzard’s market capitalization has increased from less than $10 million to over $53 billion dollars,” reads a line from the statement. “In the last five years, Activision Blizzard’s share price has outperformed the S&P 500 by more than 120% and over the past 20 years, under Mr. Kotick’s leadership, Activision Blizzard’s share price has outperformed the S&P 500 by over 11,000%.”

SOURCE: GameSpot

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Sledgehammer Games now working on multiple projects, hiring 100+ devs over next year

Sledgehammer Games has seen its fair share of ups and downs since the studio initially started back in 2010. The studio was co-founded by Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield, two former EA VPs who worked on Dead Space franchise.

The studio started its Call of Duty journey by co-developing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 with Infinity Ward in 2011. After that, Activision shifted Call of Duty to a 3 year developer cycle starting in 2014, when Sledgehammer Games worked on their own Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, then launched Call of Duty: WWII in 2017.

The studio had a rough year in 2018 when both co-founders left the company, and many developers left Sledgehammer to follow Condrey and Schofield to their respective new places.

Now, the studio appears to have stablized and picked back up going into the future. The studio started its ‘Decade II’ in August 2019, and the studio’s new COO Andy Wilson says they have setup a clear patch for the future. In an interview with VentureBeat, Wilson talks about the studio and what’s happening.

The studio is now working on multiple projects, presumably within Call of Duty world, and is looking to hire 100 more developers for their San Francisco, CA and Melbourne, AU office.

The point was to treat that moment as the first day of the second age of Sledgehammer Games and not just a celebration of what came before, because for all the studio’s success we could see there was so much we could do going-forward: culturally for certain, but also in terms of structure, the move to more than one project, the continued growth of the team in Melbourne and so on. The great thing about Decade II, Day One was that was actually the end-point of months of solid work to establish a clear plan for the future. The result is a team and studio with a clear roadmap and an enormous opportunity ahead of it, with a lot of great new team members signing up for the journey.

He confirmed that the studio is now multi-project based and is actively hiring. They currently have 200 people and want to add 100 more.

We’re now a multi-project studio and we’re looking for a substantial number of new team members to join us. We’re looking across every discipline and various levels of seniority. It’s a pretty exciting time for our studio.

It’s not clear yet what exactly the multi-projects the studio is working on. In May 2019, it was reported that Sledgehammer and Raven faced hardships on the work for 2020 Call of Duty, and Activision put Treyarch in charge of this year’s game. There still is no info on what the 2020 Call of Duty game and is if Sledgehammer is contributing to that project.

As always, stay tuned.

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Microsoft confirms Activision working on Xbox Series X games

Microsoft has confirmed during their Inside Xbox stream on May 7 a list of publishers that are developing games for the Xbox Series X.

The company has showcased a list of publishers during the stream and have confirmed Activision Blizzard is working on games for the Xbox Series X.

Activision and Call of Duty still remained partnered with PlayStation for marketing rights, so no gameplay of any Call of Duty title was shown during the Xbox Series X games showcase.

The game in development is most likely Call of Duty 2020, set to launch later this year and will most likely be a launch title for the new Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, alongside releasing on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

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Activision Blizzard Q1 2020 Results: Modern Warfare best selling game

Activision Blizzard has announced that the company has generated over $956 million in revenue from microtransactions in Q1 2020, meaning January – March. 

The number highlights the success of the in-game content in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and the release of Call of Duty: Warzone. 

“Our goal to connect the world through epic entertainment is more important to our players than ever before,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “We delivered strong financial results for the first quarter, and are raising our full year outlook. I have been awestruck by the strength of our employees and their families during this difficult time. Whether managing healthcare or childcare, performing public service or community service, our teams around the world have shown ingenuity and resilience. In the face of so many difficulties, our employees have made certain that the joy, the engagement, and the benefits of gaming remain an effective way to help keep our 400 million players around the world connected and safe.”

In-game net bookings were $956 million, as compared with $794 million for the first quarter of 2019.

Activision Blizzard also says that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, from launch to date, has now sold more copies and has more players online than any other Call of Duty title to date.

The company also revealed that Call of Duty: Warzone is now at 60 million players to date, since its launch on March 11, 2020. Activision says in-game content revenue doubled year over year in Modern Warfare compared to Black Ops 4 in Q1 2019.

  • Activision had 102 million MAUsD in the first quarter.
  • Call of Duty: Warzone launched on March 10, 2020 and has reached over 60 million players to date.
  • Life-to-date, Modern Warfare has sold through more units and has more players than any prior Call of Duty title at this point after its release.
  • In the first quarter, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare® unit sell-through was the highest for the franchise outside of a launch quarter. Following substantial year-over-year growth versus the prior title in January and February, unit sell-through accelerated in March, driven by upgrades from Warzone as well as rising demand amidst shelter-at-home conditions.
  • Also in the first quarter, Modern Warfare in-game net bookings more than doubled year-over-year versus Black Ops 4.

Activision also highlighted that Call of Duty: Mobile continues to see success:

  • Call of Duty Mobile continued to build on last October’s breakout launch with new content, features and events aimed at optimizing engagement, retention and player investment.The game saw increased reach and engagement in March, driven by an increased cadence of compelling content and events as well as shelter-at-home tailwinds.

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Activision Blizzard donates $2 million to help veterans find jobs

Activision Blizzard has made a donation of $2 million to the Call of Duty Endowment charity to help veterans in both the US and UK find jobs, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.

The company made the donation to the endowment this week, The Hollywood Reporter notes.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in veterans asking our partners for assistance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dan Goldenberg, executive director of the Call of Duty Endowment, and a 27-year Navy veteran, in a statement.

“We’ve been committed to helping veterans find meaningful employment for over 10 years, but we’ve never seen anything like this. Veterans will need our help more than ever, and through Activision Blizzard’s donation and support from the gaming community, we’re well positioned to provide that help.”

The Call of Duty Endowment is the non-profit charity that Activision Blizzard founded years ago to help veterans get back to work, as there has been a lot of unemployment amongst returning veterans.

Learn more about the Call of Duty Endowment here.

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Geoff Keighley announces ‘Summer Game Fest,’ a four month long digital game showcase

Geoff Keighley has announced a new partnership with major game publishers and industries to launch the Summer Game Fest, a four month long digital games showcase featuring announcements, in-game events, demos, and more.

Introducing @summergamefest, a new season of news, in-game events, and playable content from the entire video game industry. May – August 2020.

The announcement has stated that Activision Publishing will be part of the Summer Game Fest event, which kicks off in May and ends on August. There is no set schedule yet for when companies will showcase new games and content.

“It’s been a busy quarantine, really doing a lot of listening to where different game developers are and what can help them, as well as listening to fans about who really want to believe in something bigger,” Keighley tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It felt like maybe there’s a chance to start something new from the comfort of home.”

“Everyone’s going to do their own digital events, but how do you find a place that is a central repository of everything that’s happening this summer in games?” says Keighley of the Summer Game Fest. “We’re not trying to compete with anyone, but really trying to be this signpost directory to all the things that are happening.”

Learn more at the website here.

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Report: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered released first on PS4 because Sony funded its development

A report from a video from The Gaming Revolution has claimed that remastered versions of Modern Warfare 2’s campaign was developed because of the agreement between Sony and Activision.

Per the video, Sony even funded the development of Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered, which is why the game is releasing 30 days early on PS4.

The video, which also notes that Activision’s contract with Sony also includes Modern Warfare 3 Campaign Remastered as part of it. Activision has yet to officially announced a Modern Warfare 3 remastered, but the game will not have a MP remaster, similar to MW2 if it does release.

The information lines up with what CharlieIntel has heard about the Sony and Activision agreement. The agreement between Sony and Activision started in 2015 and has continued since, with marketing rights, esports rights, and more all in Sony’s side.

Activision announced and released Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered on March 31, 2020 first on PS4, with release on Xbox One and PC to come on April 30.

Per what we’ve heard, MW2 Campaign Remastered was ready for release since 2018.

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Federal judge rules in favor of Activision Blizzard in lawsuit over usage of Humvees in Call of Duty

AM General, makers and owners of the Humvee vehicle, filed a lawsuit back in 2017 against Activision Blizzard for using their vehicles in their games without providing compensation for using it.

The original lawsuit filed by AM General claimed Activision Blizzard was profiting off of their property without providing compensation for such usage. The company was seeking millions in lost profit thanks to Activision’s usage of the vehicle. In 2019, Activision Blizzard responded to the lawsuit claiming that it was bogus and using military vehicles is protected under the First Amendment.

On Wednesday, April 1, a federal judge haas ruled in favor of Activision Blizzard in this case stating that the usage of humvee vehicles in Call of Duty is protected by an artists’ right to realistically depict warfare in their titles and is therefore protected by the First Amendment. Federal judge said Activision Blizzard cannot be sued for doing this.

“If realism is an artistic goal, then the presence in modern warfare games of vehicles employed by actual militaries undoubtedly furthers that goal,” U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels said in his motion to dismiss. “The inclusions of Humvees in the foreground or background of various scenes … are integral elements of a video game because they communicate ideas through features distinctive to the medium.”

Federal Judge Daniels said AM General’s lawsuit failed to meet the threshold of suing a company over artistic usage of their trademark in a video game

“Defendants’ uses of Humvees in ‘Call of Duty’ games have artistic relevance. Featuring actual vehicles used by military operations around the world in video games about simulated modern warfare surely evokes a sense of realism and lifelikeness. Proceeding to the second prong of the Rogers test, defendants’ uses of Humvees in the ‘Call of Duty’ games are not explicitly misleading,” the judge said.

SOURCE: Law360

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