Author Topic: Activision, I think you missed the point  (Read 4418 times)

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Offline Shadow

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Activision, I think you missed the point
« on: February 22, 2010, 09:28:17 am »
DICE 2010: Kotick Talks Passion For Industry, Debuts Indie Contest

In a nutshell Activision are holding a competition to show their support for indie game development and will give the lucky winner US $100 000 to write their game.

However in Koticks speach he basically says: "look we're holding this competition so you forget that we've been a bunch of jerks and Hey! we're giving money to the industry.  We're good."  Suddenly it's not so much about building the industry as trying to clear Activisions tarnished name.

The competition itself is pointless (when viewed from a development perspective - PR wise it's pretty good).  $100 000 dollars isn't really that much money.  Let's assume I win, what do I have?  A two page game design doc and $100 000 dollars.  With that I need to produce the art assets so I'll need to hire an artist, probably at least two because unless you're making Geometry Wars you're going to need a lot of art.  I'm not going to be talking to profession sound studios so I'll need off the shelf sound effects or music or I'll need to hire an up-and-coming musician.  That's two or three people already and I haven't got to the expensive members of the team.  Programmers.  I'm going to need a programmer - and it's the eternally underestimated task so let's take two programmers because I need someone to actually write the game.  And this is a high pressure project so they've got to be good programmers.  Actually the whole team can't just be capable, they have to be godlike.  Given 5 people I can pay maybe six months worth of salaries before the money runs out at $1700.00 a month.  And that's before I need to pay for licenses for development software.  Things like Visual Studio, Photoshop and 3DSMax are not cheap.  If I'm aiming for a console release then I need to pay for the dev kit's also as well as certification.  And, and, and...

My point is you can't develop an indie game full time for only $100 000 dollars; the competition is a bust from a the point of building a start-up.  So not really helping the industry.

Moreover just because Activision are holding a competition to show their support of the industry does not forgive them all the damage they've done to said industry.   From a Star Control perspective there's been the obvious attempt to hang onto the brand name after it should have become public domain*.  Not nice of them, not supporting the Star Control community but hardly hurting anyone.  No, they've damaged the industry by buying, dismantling and selling start-ups that - if they'd been nurtured within Activision and not treated like stock - would have probably produced some awesome and original games.  They've damaged the industry by firing the teams on completion of very profitable projects rather than putting them to work on new projects.  Giving the industry a $100 000 is small change compared to the amount Activision has milked from it.  If they really wanted to support the industry they could contribute to one of the many open source or free game creation tools that are out there.

So Activisions stated support for the industry is completely counter to their actions within the industry.

And lasty, looking at the the competition proper things become a lot more sinister.  You send your two page game design doc to Activision and might receive $100 000.  Wait, what?  You send Activision your ideas.  For free.  That's it.  And due to how incredibly hard it is to prove ownership of intellectual property in the games industry they become Activisions ideas.

Compared to the cost of hiring game designers and the risk of those designers not producing something original, well, suddenly this competition looks like it'll pay for itself many times over.  Way to go with support for the industry.


* I can't find the site with the dodgy 4 day knock-off they commisioned.  It was the 'game' with the 3 ships, retarded AI and red curtains on either side.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2010, 09:36:57 am by Shadow »

Offline Angelfish

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Re: Activision, I think you missed the point
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2010, 11:34:39 am »
Those startups allowed themselves to get bought, in essence they sold themselves into creative slavery.
Look at TFB now, making stupid disney games for eternity. Was this what they had in mind when they wanted to become game developers? NO. But it was a life they chose by going for the easy money.

PS: $1700? LOL
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Offline Nuclear

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Re: Activision, I think you missed the point
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2010, 11:48:59 am »
Look at TFB now, making stupid Disney games for eternity.

Ugh, just reading this brings tears to my eyes. If there is anything I hate more then soccer video games, it's crappy licensed video games {Especially Disney ones}! They are no doubt just made in a hurry so they can be used to advertise an up coming movie and vice versa. And worst of all, Activision snatches up all the movie game licences before all the other company's can even check there wallets! Truly, Activision acquiring Toys for Bob is just as sad as EA acquiring Maxis...

Also yeah, Activision is just trying to show how plain nice they are by doing that indie game contest when actually, they're just trying to improve their bad image, kind of like Bill Gates giving money to charity {But Bill Gates is actually pretty awesome, unlike Activision...}
« Last Edit: February 22, 2010, 11:54:55 am by Nuclear »
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Offline Lukipela

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Re: Activision, I think you missed the point
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2010, 12:20:31 pm »
* I can't find the site with the dodgy 4 day knock-off they commisioned.  It was the 'game' with the 3 ships, retarded AI and red curtains on either side.

I found a link on the Ultronomicon, but it appears to be dead. What a tragic loss  :P

Regarding TfB, we're still waiting to find out what the next game they produce is. Fingers crossed that it'll be something different.
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Offline Dragon

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Re: Activision, I think you missed the point
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2010, 01:38:55 am »
Those startups allowed themselves to get bought, in essence they sold themselves into creative slavery.
That's a difficult one and I'm glad I don't have to make those business decisions.  Selling your company to the big bad corporate means not having to worry about how you'll pay salaries next month, not having to look for a publisher who'll take you and probably making a tidy sum of cash too.  It shouldn't stifle creativity if management actually cares about their employees or if management is pursuing creativity.

Unfortunately I suspect that the norm is to become a body shop once bought...

Offline Eth

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Re: Activision, I think you missed the point
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2010, 02:09:54 am »
  I think you're overstating the case, Shadow. 

  Look at 2D Boy.  It's basically two guys, and they're an indy success story.  You don't need to hire a full-time sound guy; that's absurd.  Hire the sound guy for a day or two, and you're all set.  I've done plenty of sound design; it doesn't take long.  What you need, I think, is an artist and a programmer.  And one of them needs to have a head for business. 

  Note: I'm not trying to defend Activision.  I don't give a crap about them one way or another. 

Offline Lukipela

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Re: Activision, I think you missed the point
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2010, 11:01:08 am »
You make me so happy Eth. Your post reminded me of another two person team, the guys at Moonpod. I bought and loved Mr Robot quite a while back and while I didn't play Starscape i heard good things about it. And they have a new game out, although I'm not sure I'll buy that one...
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