i agree with something bobby kotick said.
This must mean the end is nigh, people. The world is about to be torn asunder. Stock up on canned goods.
In fact, even though he has a way of making even the most innocuous, corporate-responsibility remarks seem as though they’re slathered in avarice, I can’t even take much issue with the way he said it.
It’s not organized into a convenient sound bite (thanks Gamasutra), so if you don’t want to click the link there what it boils down to is this: Kotick feels that the PC gaming space is underrepresented and would like to support more active PC development.
I would hate to see the PC continue to suffer as an entertainment platform, and I like the idea of big publishers supporting more PC development. But my backing for Kotick’s remarks ends there – because he’s not talking about generally supporting the PC, he’s talking about monetizing Windows-based multiplayer. If he said they’d be supporting more innovation, new IP, and independent development on the PC, hell, I might kiss the man then.
The Microsoft Games for Windows Twitter blog was quick to respond: “Acti supports PC Gaming? Is it April already?” Touché. Not that Microsoft supports PC gaming very much, but still.
Now of course, Kotick’s main gripe – and this goes back to my slathered-with-avarice crack – is that (according to him) 60% of Xbox Live subscribers are only there for Call of Duty multiplay, and Activision/Blizzard doesn’t get any money from that. Of course, they don’t get a revenue stream from those who play CoD online on their PCs either, but the company could – and presumably will – one day set up its own (paid) online service and require gamers to subscribe to that if they want to kill each other.
Now personally I think it’s reaching to say that 60% of XBL subscribers (PSN is free so it doesn’t count) are ONLY there for Call of Duty, but I do agree that the game represents a very, very large portion of why subscribers continue to shell out every month. And as a CEO, part of Kotick’s job is to monetize his products in whatever way possible. So far he’s chosen strategies like denying promised royalties to his top-performing studios, then firing their leadership when they complain, or driving franchises so hard into the ground they come out the other side. But this would be a valid approach too.
Of course, PC gamers are a rowdy bunch. Would they pay for exclusive multiplayer access to Actvision/Blizzard games? The infrastructure is already in place – Blizzard has been working very hard bringing Battle.Net up to snuff in anticipation of Starcraft II, and while Battle.Net is currently free there’s no reason it needs to be. And I suspect that what Kotick has in mind would be a Battle.Net type of matchmaking and game hosting service, not a Steam type of environment… though again, there’s no reason Battle.Net couldn’t be expanded to deliver that. But the original question: would PC gamers pony up for multiplayer access to these games?
Well… maybe. I would say “yes,” especially if the price is low, because people do love their Calls of Duty. Thing is, though, it seems to me much more likely that they’d just buy Call of Duty 1×10^53: War Between the States for their consoles and play on a service that’s either free (PSN) or to which they’re already subscribed (XBL). So unless Activision – which Kotick said would “aggressively support” more PC game development, is willing to be aggressive enough to start shipping PC exclusive games, then this is a dicey proposition.
The other issue is that while yes, many people subscribe to XBL in part because of Call of Duty, Kotick just got finished dismantling the studio primarily responsible for it. Infinity Ward exists now largely in name only; Treyarch, the other Call of Duty franchiser, may not be able to deliver the same goods.
The PC world is and always has been fertile, if challenging, ground for game development. It’s enjoying a bit of a resurgence these days, thanks to Steam and some truly amazing independent games, as well as what we’re seeing from Russia and Eastern Europe – a very creative region that’s always favored PC development. So what it boils down to isn’t that Kotick “supports PC gaming,” he supports things that will make him money. I don’t like him and I hope that he dies of intestinal worms, but if A/B helps support the PC even as a corollary to the CEO’s actual goal of turning more profit, well, I can’t really condemn it.
Would you pay for multiplay on PC? I’m not talking MMOs, that’s another animal. Would you pay, say, $65 a year for a Battle.Net style service that allows you unfettered access to multiplay in a large library of games, like Activision’s? You still have to buy the games, of course. Discuss!
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