Activision’s CEO, Eric Hirshberg, sat down with GamesIndustry International and talked about Xbox One’s price and about Call of Duty’s investment this year.
As a publisher, does the $499 price point on Xbox One concern you?
It’s up to them to win the value argument. If you do a focus group of a gazillion people and you show them two prices for two competitive products, 100 percent always prefer the lower price. I think from a first impression standpoint the win goes to Sony, at least as it relates to pricing. Microsoft is going to have to win the hearts and minds and convince people that the higher price point is worth it, and that it provides really meaningful capabilities that will be meaningful to consumers. And it’s a long game, so I am sure that’s what they intend on trying to do.
Activision CEO talked about the Wii U and said, “the Wii U is struggling – that’s not a secret, I don’t think there’s any other way to read the narrative right now – but they’re a really good company and they’ve got some incredible IP that has yet to come, that they honed for that platform.”
Hirshberg also went on to talk about investment in Call of Duty:
We don’t talk about our budgets but we’re developing for [many] different platforms with next-gen and current-gen and it’s a very complex development process. And then you have all the stakes that come with a new generation of hardware, the expectations, needing to set the gold standard for next-gen, win people over and make sure that our audience comes with us to the next generation. Look, it’s not for the faint of heart
The engagement has never been stronger in the length of the tail on Black Ops II and the level of engagement we’re seeing this long after launch, the success of the DLC and the season pass. Things are really good and we’ve got a really passionate player base that we think is the best in the world and we are never going to let them down.
Premium Call of Duty games will be revealed later in the year than usual
Activision confirms Warzone’s success has had an impact on Call of Duty marketing decisions.
With the success of Call of Duty: Warzone and the post launch campaigns, Activision has acknowledged that they are experiencing a shift in their marketing of Call of Duty.
The Call of Duty marketing machine has been in almost a consistent pattern for years. A new game gets announced in May, MP reveal over the summer, potential beta in August/September, and then a release in October/November. It’s been systematic.
That entire process has been upended with the launch of Call of Duty: Warzone. With the game’s success and continued post launch campaign seasons ongoing, there’s a lot to talk about now without having to shift attention to the latest premium release so early.
And, Activision’s President is acknowledging this shift in Call of Duty marketing plans. When asked in a new interview with VentureBeat about revealing new CoD games later in the year, Kostich states “we’re probably shifting a bit more in that direction.”
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was the first to experience this. The game, which fans hoped would be announced in the similar schedule in May, was only revealed in end of August. The reveal event occurred within Call of Duty: Warzone, a new way for Activision to engage the fan base.
Kostich says that the reason for the change in reveal time frame is what we’re seeing right now. “You’ve seen what we have in season three this week. We have so much to talk about and so much going on that’s happening this week. We want to focus on that with the community, focus on the journey with them.”
He reiterated how Black Ops reveal was able to be apart of Warzone, something Activision has never been able to do before. “We did some cool things in terms of integrating the reveal of Black Ops into Warzone. Those are the things we want to orchestrate and provide to our community, letting them discover Call of Duty themselves in their play experience.”
Kostich confirms that “marketing is changing within Call of Duty, how we get the community to participate and uncover things for us.”
He states that reveals of premium CoD games “might be happening later, but it’s all part of a broader agenda to bring the community along on a fun journey.”
As always, stay tuned for the latest news on Call of Duty.
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.
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.
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
Report: Activision Blizzard HQ & Treyarch offices set to relocate
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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