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Activision learning about Chinese gamers with Call of Duty Online; open beta for China coming end of this year

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Activision’s big push, officially, into Chinese market is with Call of Duty Online. Call of Duty, thanks to piracy, is in high demand across China. Activision saw this opportunity and is working with China’s publisher, Tencent, to bring Call of Duty Online exclusively to China. 

“If you look at other [Western game companies], they’ve tried to come into the Chinese market and it’s been difficult,” Daniel Suarez, the vice president of production for the Call of Duty franchise, said during a presentation at E3. “I think they’re under the assumption, ‘I’m going to take my game, I’ll bring it over, and people will engage with it because the graphics are good,’ and everything else.”

“Call of Duty is a known and established brand in China — through piracy, it’s become this well established and known franchise. So I think Tencent sees that opportunity and they have wanted to partner with us.”

Activision plans to make the Call of Duty Online beta open by the end of this year, but has to make sure it get’s every aspect right. The game has been in closed beta, in two different sessions, with a third session set to start this summer.

Raven Software has taken over as the Lead Developer on this title. Call of Duty Online for China started off with assets from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, MW2, and Black Ops to get the frame-rate in the game right. As development progresses on, Raven plans to add features and assets from MW3, Ghosts, and even Advanced Warfare. But, bringing a new title to China means that Activision really has to understand Chinese gamers. For one, Chinese gamers don’t have ADS in current titles. Their most popular game right now is called Crossfire, which has no ADS.

“One of our biggest takeaways [from research] is that Call of Duty is hard,” Raffel said. “CoD players in the west, we’re used to looking down sights, we’re used to going prone and jumping and doing all these things at the same time. They do none of those things, and the things that they do do, they do one at a time. So they aren’t multitasking.”

“They see our epic killstreaks and go, “Wow, this is kind of a daunting experience, I don’t know that I’m going to be able to do all these things,'” Suarez said. “Being able to train them, and have them understand how they’re able to do these things is critically important.

“They don’t ADS [aim down sights] in Crossfire,” he continued. “So for us, it’s training them to understand that this will give them more accuracy. It’ll give them a better experience.”

The culture and foundation of how Chinese gamers play is fundamentally different and requires understanding across the development teams to implement. 

“In video games [in the west], you see the shiny coin, you see the blinky box, you know you need to go collect it,” Suarez explained. “But when we started toing tests in China, this is not what they did. We have game modes, like ‘Kill Confirmed’ where you go around collecting dogtags, and either capture the kill for your team or deny the kill for the other. In China, they actively avoid these things. Thye’re like, ‘No, I don’t want to get that.’ These practices are just not inherent to their knowledge of how they play they games.

“So we need to take more time to explain that,” Suarez said. “We need to adapt our game to that culture.”

Call of Duty Online for China is exclusive to China; it’s a free-to-play Call of Duty title, but Activision is using micro transactions with customization and other options to make a profit from it. 

SOURCE: Polygon 

 

Call of Duty: Warzone

Activision issuing “hardware bans” to thwart Warzone cheaters

Activision have confirmed that they are handing out “hardware bans” to banned cheaters who keep making fresh accounts.

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Call of Duty Warzone gameplay

Cheaters and hackers have plagued Call of Duty: Warzone since its launch, but on top of account bans, Activision has confirmed that they are issuing hardware bans to thwart repeat offenders.

Cheaters have been a thorn in both players’ and developers’ sides since Warzone launched in 2020. It has been common to run into players blatantly wall-hacking and aim-botting, ruining the game for casual players and pros alike.

Raven Software has been providing regular updates on how many cheaters have been banned, and Activision recently confirmed that 475,000 permabans have been issued since Warzone’s launch. The likely reason why this number is so high is that Warzone is free-to-play. It’s widely believed that even if a cheater’s account gets banned, they can simply create a new one and carry on as if nothing happened.

Activision is aware of this issue and player’s concerns and released an in-depth update on their anti-cheat progress on April 12.

Because so many players have been concerned that account bans are ineffective, Call of Duty staff responded to this, saying that “Removing cheaters and taking away their ability to move to alternate accounts is a key focus for the security teams.”

They confirmed that if you’re cheating, not only could you be unknowingly downloading malware to your system, you could also receive a hardware ban.

To make sure players don’t keep creating fresh accounts to cheat with, Activision said, “We do issue hardware bans against repeat, or serial, cheaters. This is an important part of our effort to combat repeat offenders.”

This means that players who receive a hardware ban will be permanently locked out and won’t be able to simply create a new, free account and go back to their cheating ways.

Helicopters flying to Warzone's Verdansk Stadium

Activision also confirmed that not only are they targeting individual accounts with cheats installed, but also “the commercial market of cheat providers and resellers.” They revealed that they have recently banned “45,000 fraudulent, black market accounts used by repeat offenders.”

Cheaters will likely still make their way into your Warzone sessions, but Activision is making sure it’s continuously more risky and difficult to do.

In the meantime, you can check out our guide on how to spot cheaters in Warzone so you can assist Activision by reporting these players.

Image Credit: Activision

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Report: Activision Blizzard HQ & Treyarch offices set to relocate

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A new report states Activision Blizzard will no longer lease its office space in Santa Monica and are actively searching for a new HQ location.

DoTEsports reports that Activision Blizzard and Treyarch have ended their lease at their Santa Monica HQ offices. The company has had the office under their lease for more than a decade.

Per the new report, the teams that work in those spaces will work from home until further notice.

The company is reportedly in search of a new space. An internal memo, which was sent to staff and obtained by DoTEsports, states the company is actively looking for a new office space in the Santa Monica area.

We have narrowed down the search for our next office location to several properties in the Santa Monica area and we hope to finalize our plans in the coming weeks,” the internal company communication said.

Activision employees have been working from home since March 2020. As of now, the company says they’re on track to return to office by September 1, 2021. The timeline remains unchanged.

Activision’s main headquarters was located in the Santa Monica office on Ocean Blvd in California. Treyarch’s studio space was located right next door to Activision Blizzard HQ in Santa Monica on the first floor of an office building. The two used those buildings for over 10 years now, and are now up for rental and purchase.

Activision has not commented on this information as of now.

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Investment group calls out Activision for CEO payout

Activision Blizzard’s CEO continues to rake in bonus after bonus, and now investment firms are questioning the decisions.

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An investment firm, CtW, issued a statement report directed at Activision for upcoming bonus pay for their CEO, Bobby Kotick, which is valued at a remarkable $200 million.

The report states that an SEC filing and agreement between Activision Blizzard CEO and the board of directors of the company will allow the CEO to receive a bonus pay of $200 million at the end of this year.

Per the investment group, as released to GameSpot, a loophole created within Bobby Kotick’s employee agreement allows him to claim full bonus payout for previous years regardless of the company’s performance. This loophole is described in the “Shareholder Value Creation Incentive” provision in Kotick’s employment agreement. He can receive a full performance equity payout from previous years – 2017 and on. That is valued at almost $200 million, which is set to be paid out in cash upon the end date of the incentive provision.

Investment group CtW issued a scathing statement over this, as the company just this week laid off less than 2% of its workforce, which is less than 190 people for “restructuring” purposes. The lay offs impacted Activision Blizzard esports department, alongside the company’s King division.

While the increase in Activision’s stock price is somewhat commendable, as we stated last year and continue to assert, this achievement alone does not justify such a substantial pay outcome for the CEO,” director of executive compensation research, Michael Varner, said. “There are many factors that may contribute to a rise in this particular company’s stock price that may not be directly attributable to Robert Kotick’s leadership. The use of video games as one of the few entertainment options available amid the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has been a boon to many companies in the gaming industry irrespective of executive talent or strategic decisions.

Bobby Kotick already makes $30 million a year from Activision thanks to his base salary and bonus yearly pay. He’s one of gaming’s highest paid executives. Activision continues to report record profits with 2020 being the company’s biggest year yet.

Activision has not commented on the latest developments on this payout.

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