Evil publisher Activision has an image problem. Much of that problem stems from the fact that evil publisher Activision is evil, and everybody knows it. Perhaps if Activision were less evil, its public image would improve, but since being evil is both profitable and fun, that's never going to happen. This is a problem, however, because gamers are starting to get wise to Activision's nefarious ways, and that can't stand.
Not to worry, however, because this is America, where you can be as vile as you want, provided you have a good PR department. Just ask Mike Tyson, who has apparently become a lovable rogue and hilarious movie icon despite the fact that he is a convicted rapist. The moral of the story is that you can stick your penis into whomever you want whether she likes it or not, but if you get into a movie with Zach Galifianakis, all is forgiven.
So, with that in mind, we must accept that Activision being evil isn't the problem. It's every perceiving Activision as evil that's truly the issue. This company is in serious need of an image change, and fortunately we're just the guys to do it. Here's how Activison can become popular!
Fire more people that helped make your company millions:
Everybody loves a good round of layoffs, especially when those affected are people who have been responsible for making your company the most powerful and profitable in the videogame industry. The firing of Infinity Ward bosses Jason West and Vince Zampella caused an explosion of high fives and celebratory wine mixers across America, as gamers reveled triumphantly at the idea of Activision crippling and terrifying a hard working developer while seizing control like an annexing fascist regime.
Fact is, nobody liked Jason and Vince and everybody was happy when they were gone. If Activision wants its stock to go up, it should fire more people. The most beloved and high profile the better. Activision needs to buy out more studios and then fire their bosses. Our analysts say that if Activision could somehow acquire Kojima Productions, terminate Hideo Kojima, and then rename the studio Kotick & The Gang, it would officially become more popular than televised panel shows starring celebrity judges and a contrived Mr. Nasty.
Flood the market with games nobody asked for:
Activision has been making a great start on this, but it clearly hasn't done enough to sway public opinion. Gamers adore buying five sequels and spin-offs for a single franchise in a year. With a series as popular as Guitar Hero, Activision simply looks like a philanthropist when it releases Guitar Hero 5, Guitar Hero: Metallica, Guitar Hero: Van Halen, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, Band Hero, DJ Hero, Guitar Hero: On Tour: Modern Hits, Guitar Hero Mobile and Guitar Hero Arcade all within the same twelve-month span. All it's doing is giving customers more of what they want. Hell, that's practically charity!
Why release just one StarCraft II when you can break it up into three releases? People wanted more StarCraft, so give them more StarCraft, even if it's just one game sold three times over. Activision needs to go further if it wants to win heartshare as well as marketshare, however. Before 2010 is out, we need to see StarCraft: World Tour, Starcraft Babies, StarCraft Racers, Starcraft DS, Starcraft vs. Banjo-Kazooie, StarCraft: Wii Edition, StarCraft: Wii Edition Gold, StarCraft: Wii Edition Gold Alpha, Modern StarCraft, StarCraft: The Wonder Years, StarCraft: Black Sabbath and StarCraft: The Official Game of the Game. Oh, and a few more Call of Duties never hurt anybody!
Charge extra for your games, just because you can:
If people are prepared to pay an extra ten bucks for a popular game, why not charge more? Activision tested the water with Modern Warfare 2, slapping a £55 RRP on the box for the simple reason that it could get away with it. Naturally, the response from Brits was sheer elation.
Activision is so beloved in Europe that most gamers find excuses to give the publisher more money than they should. The Church of England even has a collection every week, where the congregation is encouraged to donate as much as they can to the Activision Fund. At the end of the year, the Archbishop gathers all the money collected from across the nation and transports it to Activision's head office on the backs of a thousand gilded horses, all wearing magnificent headdresses of finest bronze and encrusted with glittering jewels of the realm. Kotick is then allowed to keep the horses to ride, breed, and eat, along with all the money raised by Christ in his name.
The gratitude felt by British gamers at having a chance to give Activision more money was staggering. Many Britons fell to the ground and openly wept, unable to contain their humility. In fact, other nations around the world were envious of Britain, and this is why Activision should act fast and start charging $75 for future Call of Duty games in North America. The Activision offices would be flooded with "Thank You" cards.
Regularly demonstrate open contempt for your audience:
Whether you're joking about charging more for games, stating that you want to take the fun out of videogames, or trying to block the release of a popular title for no justifiable reason whatsoever, you simply can't go wrong with a flagrant and public demonstration of how little respect you have for your audience. It's a surefire winner. George Carlin became a national sensation, simply for telling Americans how worthless and stupid they were. America lapped it up, and gamers will similarly appreciate being mocked, shafted and overtly loathed by people who feel they are superior.
Gamers love the idea that publishers are laughing at them and taking their money with one hand while hiding a knife in the other. Anybody who plays games is a social masochist, sexually aroused by those who diminish and belittle them, and if Activision could only show a little more disregard and possibly some outright hatred for their customers, I believe they will be hailed as heroes throughout the world.
Blind all gamers:
What's the best way to look good? Make sure nobody in the world can see you. You can look however you bloody well want if everybody is blind. Yes, if Activision wants to improve its public image, one of the fastest and most efficient ways would be to blind everybody in the gamer community. That way, they won't be able to read about the publisher's latest evil escapade online, or witness Bobby Kotick punching infants in the gut like he always does.
It would be incredibly simple to do. Just line the interior of future game cases with small capsules. When the packaging is opened, the capsules respond to air contact by bursting open and spraying a potent nerve gas into the eyes of the would-be gamer. Guitar Hero just because Guitar HerOH FUCK I CAN'T SEE ANYMORE!
Now Activision is free to continue making pacts with Satan's Wizards and carving eldritch runes into the hind legs of kittens, and nobody can call them out on it.
Let Bobby Kotick talk more:
Such a bright, young boy, and so well spoken. We need to hear more from him!
Buy studios and then drop all their games because you can't turn them into franchises:
Really, who cares about Brutal Legend or Ghostbusters? You can't release fifteen Ghostbusters games a year, so don't bother with it. Activision looked shrewed and smart when it bought Vivendi and more or less dropped all of its titles, demonstrating a callous disregard for new IP. Gamers appreciated how clever Activision had been by not caring about building a franchise from scratch or making games that could have worked well on their own without a metric ton of follow-ups and spin-offs.
Dropping new IP in favor of games that can be "exploited" for ten years may look cynical and greedy to a few idiots, but the rest of the population will see it as commitment. Activision needs to demonstrate that when it agrees to publish something, it's in it for the long haul. It won't release just one game and be satisfied with that. Endless sequels show that you're dedicated, and this is why Activision needs to buy more studios and then let all their projects rot. It will show franchise loyalty, and that, in turn, promotes fan loyalty.
Oh, but keep Prototype for some reason.
You know, while we're at it, why doesn't Activision just kill some Jews? I mean, the publisher's at that point where if it gets the support and adulation of a bunch of Neo Nazis, that's at least one demographic Activision has failed to piss off. They'd get on like a house on fire anyway -- The Third Reich was supposed to last for a thousand years, and so is the Guitar Hero series. Ideologically, there's very little separating the two groups.
At this rate, literally murdering Jewish people couldn't hurt Activision's reputation any less. It could only stand to gain. Plus, what kid could resist going out to buy a plastic peripheral music game? Activision could have lured Anne Frank out in a heartbeat.
Oh, that Activision!
[About Jim Sterling: Jim Sterling is Destructoid's reviews editor and writes a wide variety of articles, including editorials such as this. He does not consider himself a journalist. His work can be humorous or serious but its up to you to decide which articles are which. The opinions expressed -- be they satirical or sincere -- are entirely his own and don't reflect the opinions of Destructoid's staff as a whole. He might annoy you sometimes, but his aim is never genuine offense. Try and take him for what he is -- one guy having fun on the Internet and talking about videogames.]