Back in 1982 A small group of Atari employees led by DavidCrane create a demo game for the Atari 2600 which they called “The Venetian Blinds technique.”
While the game was never released it was a revolutionary idea for video game developers at the time due to its unique features. The game’s feature allowed half an image to be displayed on the screen half the time which would allow a game to have up to 8 different images on screen at once instead of the usual six. As soon as this idea was announced to the public Atari wanted to take full credit for this and shaft David and his entire group.
David and his staff then decided that before they released the game they would break apart from Atari and form their own company called “Activision” who went on to create games such as pitfall, Ghostbusters, Freeway, canyon bomber, and so on. Once they were about to release their Venetian Blinds game and Atari caught wind of it, Atari attempted to sue Activision for “Proprietary infringement” clamming that the technique that they were using was owned solemnly by Atari studios. David Crane and the rest of Activision knew that they hadn’t done anything wrong so they showed the demo to the public and called out Atari as a liar. After the lawsuit passed in Activision’s favor they went on to creating games with the intention of creating a business that would accept innovative ideas while being fair and truthful to the developers.
But low and behold almost 30 years later Activision is one of the most corrupt and hated companies in the video game industry. Let’s start about a year ago. About a month before the release of call of duty modern warfare 2 Activision had made a contract with the two lead developers at Infinity Ward Jason West and Vince Zempela. The contract clearly states these things. If modern warfare 2 is finished and released to the public before the date of November 15th 2009 then the developers Jason And Vince would be paid royalties in the form of thirteen million dollars each. The contract also states that After modern warfare 2 was released that Infinity Ward would have the right to break apart from Activision and work independently as their own company.
So did Activision stay true to their promises… HELL NO.
On November 15th 2009. Activision’s current CEO Bobby Kotick burst into one of his Infinity Ward, and fired the two lead developers of Call of duty modern warfare 2 claiming that it was for “Reasons that they already knew.” After many days had gone bye giving him time to come up with an excuse he stated that they had conspired against him by planning to merge with an other company after Activision had let them go. Even though there was absolutely no proof at all to support this accusation he still ended up firing them and because he had fired the two main developers the rest of the contract was apparently null and void as well.
This is not the way to run a business, this is Slavery. When you have the power to choose to null and void a written contract you’re pretty much forcing your developers to work underneath your foot until they either retire or die.
To further prove my point in late December 70 former employees at infinity ward had left to work with Vince and Jason at EA studios under a new subsidiary company which they call Respon Entertainment. After hearing this Activision was furious that an other company offered them better deals and treated them fairly. So just to try to prove that once you work at Activision you’re their slaves Activision filled a $400 million civil suit against EA last December claiming that EA Was using Jason and Vince to lure former employees over in an attempt to delay modern warfare3. And that as of July 2009 Jason and Vince had been conspiring against Activision and that they were trading company secrets with EA since before they were fired. EA has shrugged the lawsuit off their shoulders claiming that there is no evidence of this what so ever, and that Activision are using scare tactics to keep their employees from joining other companies.
As if that’s not bad enough Activision has also exploited many other of their subsidiary companies over the years. Their latest victim is Raven Software. In June of 2010 Raven software released Singularity to the public. The game had extremely disappointing sales according to Activision and because of this in December of 2010 Activision fired the forty employees at Raven Software who developed the game. This is just downright disgusting. The game in question had very little if any marketing support and even though it’s partly Activision’s fault for not paying to advertise for it they didn’t want to take any of the blame for themselves and wanted to punish Raven for simply trying out a new IP. This is Activision’s main problem they are to dependant on their super huge mega franchises that they don’t have time to focus on the little guys. What makes this disgusting is that it’s not that Activision didn’t pay to advertise for it, but that they simply didn’t want to. It’s not as though they were to busy for any number of possible reasons, but they flat out didn’t care. To prove this let’s take a look at Call Of Duty Black Ops. Three months prior to this games release the game already had over four million pre orders at GameStop alone. But this didn’t stop Activision from advertising for it. After the game had been released there were commercials on tv on billboards on blimps.
Even though this game already sold like hot cakes they still spent millions to advertise for it. So while they may seem like their interested in new ideas the truth is your nothing to them unless you develop titanic super games.
Here’s the basic rundown for Activision’s profits’ 70% World of Warcraft 20% Call Of Duty, and 10% everything else.
It is said that the most common cause of suffering is success and failure. Never have truer words been spoken when it comes to Activision If you create mediocre games for them that and multi million dollar sellers then they shaft your studio for insufficient sales.
But if you create a titanic super game franchise like Call Of Duty then Activision thinks of the best ways to exploit your hard work. It’s a shame to see that the once proud Activision who once symbolized original and innovative ideas and stood for equality has
grown up to be the Bastard demon child of Atari.
My only advise is stop buying games that we know will sell a million copies and start buying games with the potential to sell a million copies because potential is what all businesses should look at not trying to milk a yearly franchise with a development team who is scared and angry at their employers. Because sooner or later it’s all going to come crumbling down on you realize that people are fed up with your franchise and you haven’t tried anything or experimented with new ideas for years.