Activision/Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick's Latest Great Idea
If we were to go to an audience and say ‘We have this great hour and a half of linear video that we'd like to make available to you at a $20 or $30 price point’ you'd have the biggest opening weekend of any film ever,” he told an audience at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in California, as reported by IGN.Blizzard has a long history of producing top-notch cutscenes and the moderate financial success of film tie-ins like Final Fantasy: Advent Children has established a certain precedent. Given a sufficiently large fan base and a decent story, CGI game movies can succeed. A film based on characters from Starcraft 2, if well executed, could be a huge hit, particularly in South Korea. The idea is solid—the cost structure isn't.
Within the next five years, you are likely to see us do that. It might be in a partnership with somebody or alone, but there will be a time where we'll capitalise on the relationship we have with our audience; deliver them something that is really extraordinary and let them consume it directly through us instead of theatrical distribution. “If we were to deliver a film digitally this way, I'd say an extremely high percentage would then go to the theater and watch it again," Kotick concluded.
It's kinda like this.
Bobby couldn't be more wrong when he predicts his $20-30 movie would break box office records. What it would actually break is the Internet, with thousands of people rushing to download a blurry screen-captured version of the film. We might pay that much for a full DVD/Blu-ray version of the film, with the usual goodies and commentary that come with such versions, but never in a theater. The reason Kotick is backing this horse boils down to profit. According to the CEO, "My guess is unlike film studios that are really stuck with a model that goes through theatrical distribution and takes a signification amount of the profit away."
At the envisioned price point a Starcraft movie is a disaster waiting to happen, but it's also par for the course for a man who wanted to jack the price of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 higher than the initial $54.95, wants a piece of XBox Live revenue (claiming that 60 percent of players are on it to play CoD), believes workers should constantly fear for their job security, and measures game value solely by profit. The one upside to Kotick's stewardship is that Blizzard's own game quality doesn't appear to have been impacted. Starcraft 2 was a top-notch production; our experience with the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm beta suggests it'll be polished to the same sheen.