Analyst “Disappointed” With Activision’s Plan

By Jim Rossignol on December 8th, 2010 at 10:07 am.

Sigh.
To be honest, I usually go out of my way to avoid the commentary of industry magic 8-ball analyst Michael Pachter, but his recent comments on Activision’s public declining of the suggestion to charge for Call of Duty multiplayer made me laugh. Via Industry Gamers: “We were disappointed to hear Activision’s new head of publishing flatly deny the company’s plans to charge for multiplayer,” says Pachter… “Considering that each of the publicly traded publishers exists to maximize shareholder value, we view their reticence to monetize multiplayer as a betrayal of shareholder trust.”

What a shame. I wonder whose trust Activision were considering when they said they would never do that, eh readers?

, .

138 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge AndrewC says:

    Oooo, knives out deary.

  2. Snall says:

    Lol, that would flop so hard it would be funny. So I still believe they were considering the shareholders.

    • Wulf says:

      You’re completely right, of course. No one in their right mind would pay for online multiplayer, except maybe for MMORPGs, people are usually smarter than that.

      Yep… smarter…

      Of course, I’m sadly being ironic. All I have to do here really is point at the XBox 360. If the cost is small enough, people will pay for anything, even something they know they should be having for free, and could be getting for free elsewhere (PC/PS3).

    • GenBanks says:

      I’m sure Dice and everyone else who makes a mulitplayer fps would love it if CoD tried to ‘monetize’ their multiplayer with subscriptions.

      I think this “analyst’s” suggestion is a profoundly stupid one in the context of a gaming industry where ‘free to play’ model with dlc is the cutting edge way to make money. He sounds both out of touch and condescending towards CoD’s customers.

    • bob_d says:

      @ Wulf: On the other hand, there was Hellgate:London, which even occasionally billed itself as an MMO, but people were smart enough to recognize that Flagship was trying to get people to pay for a simple multiplayer shooter, and it contributed to the backlash.
      People really don’t like to pay for something that they previously got free. (It’s actually a problem for developers as player expectations are hurting the industry in many ways, demanding services for free that cost developers and publishers money. Companies could more easily afford to offer those services for free in the past because the ratio of income from boxed sales to development costs was so high. But that’s no longer true.) I think Xbox largely got away with charging for the Live service because it didn’t have a direct precedent.

    • Premium User Badge Devan says:

      @bob_d
      “It’s actually a problem for developers as player expectations are hurting the industry in many ways, demanding services for free that cost developers and publishers money.”

      I don’t think that’s quite accurate. Services such as multiplayer support can be offered much more cheaply than they sometimes are. Players who like the game are willing to pull their own weight with dedicated servers and such if the game allows it.
      The real problem is that developers and publishers _want_ the consumers to be dependent on them. The recent trend across the industry is to turn products into services, and to make those services tightly coupled to the parent company. That’s the best way to convince users to pay for subscriptions and/or microtransactions, which can often result in them spending much more than they would on a simple product purchase. It also keeps customers on a short leash and coming back for more.
      That’s one of the reasons Blizzard, Steam, and others do so well, by making their games depend on their services.

      That’s why I think this really isn’t a case of customers “demanding something for free”. They already paid for the game and the multiplayer is often a primary driver of those sales. There’s also no need for the operation of servers to be prohibitively expensive for the developers if they don’t design it to be.

    • bob_d says:

      @Devan: What you say is also true. (And yeah, free multiplayer is not the greatest example of how player expectations are hurting the industry – expectations about features and content size are more problematic.) Running servers has indeed been a way of encouraging sales/discouraging piracy. Blizzard has made its money in the past by offering games that were easily copied, but if you wanted the full experience you needed a legitimate copy to play on their servers, for instance. However, having offered the service for free, publishers now can’t get away with charging for it, even if costs are significant and/or what they offer goes beyond just hosting the game.

  3. Atic Atac says:

    I’m so happy I didn’t buy Black Ops. I wanted to ….but then I saw Bobby Kotick’s face somewhere

  4. Rich says:

    Don’t the xbox 360 crowd already pay Microsoft for multi-player?

    • Milky says:

      That neogaf thread is getting the wrong end of the stick as has been pointed out many times. He is talking about getting a modest ammount from the WOW subscriptions, not from XBL subscriptions (which afaik arn’t even mentioned in the press release they quote from).

      As much as i think the guy is a douchebag hes been misquoted and misintrepreted quite badly here :P

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      XBox 360 players pay for access to XBox Live. One of the “features” of XBox live is enabling multiplayer although technically you’re paying for Microsoft to host servers for you to play on more than anything else with something like COD BLOPS.
      I have PS3 owning friends who complain about the COD BLOPS multiplayer being shocking for lag & latency. As the servers aren’t hosted by Sony they’re left probably to Activision to run themselves & to maximise profit they’ll go for the ropiest servers they can find. XBox 360 players don’t have this problem as they’re paying for a better service.

      The old adage that you get what you pay for has never seemed more appropriate.

    • Wulf says:

      I think that this is so incredibly necessary, here.

      Dogbert: I have discovered a heretofore undiagnosed condition.
      Dilbert: There is no such thing as Chronic Cubicle Syndrome.
      Dogbert: Initially victims exhibit denial.
      Dilbert: But you have no proof.
      Dogbert: Oh, I have something much better than proof. Anecdotal evidence!
      Dogbert: Who do you think would be dumb enough to believe anecdotal evidence?
      Dogbert: I’ve narrowed my target market to… PEOPLE!

      Of course, anecdotal evidence doesn’t actually work on someone who’s had experiences contrary to that. I use the PS3 from time to time, and I’ve never seen anything that could be described as shocking lag and/or latency. I’m going to call BS on this one. I’m also going to call ‘any mad/irrational reasoning is okay, backed up by whatever nonsensical evidence, as long as it serves well enough to whitewash whatever foolish things you’ve done’.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Wulf I used to enjoy reading your comments because of your usually unique perspective on things. If you’ve just outed yourself as a COD player I’ll have to re-think that position dramatically.

    • Clovis says:

      I thought most 360 games were hosted by one of the people playing; the MS server just handles getting everyone together. Isn’t that why the number of players is so low for 360 multiplayer?

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      @Malibu Stacey: All MS hosts are matchmaking servers, the games themselves are P2P. Hence things like host advantage and host migration in CoD and the like.

    • adonf says:

      As a former XBL programmer I can confirm what Clovis and pkt-zer0 say: in most cases one of the players hosts the game. It’s true for the Wii too, although that’s hidden from the players. In the (old, might have changed since then) XBL guideline you could chose to create a new game ; on the Wii you can only look for a game and if no game is found then it will create it for you automatically.

      I said in most cases because this doesn’t apply to MMOs and I don’t know if there are “dedicated servers” on the consoles.

    • Jimbot says:

      @Malibu Stacey

      That’s not necessarily true. I play multiplayer games on the PS3 all the time and I rarely suffer from lag or latency issues. It depends on the game really and even then, it’s probably an isolated incident. The “You get what you paid for” is just an argument conjured up by console warriors to discredit the competition and is often used by people who never actually played a game online on the PS3.

      I have friends who play Black Ops online all the time and they never had problems with lag.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Fair enough. I don’t have an Xboxen, nor would I waste my time on any of the CoD games & the only multiplayer game I’ve played on PS3 so far is Burnout Paradise which doesn’t really count so I can only rely on as Wulf says anecdotal evidence.

      The question then has to be, why do people pay for XBox Live Gold access?
      Also what are console players smoking if they’re running FPS multiplayer games on listen servers? Is there a 4 player limit per game or something?

    • LevingLasVegas says:

      @ Malibu Stacey: why do people pay for XBox Live Gold access?”
      Because there is no other option if you want to play online multiplayer. It’s all good and well to say “get a PC/PS3″, but that’s really not really always applicable, and , besides, what if you really like Halo multiplayer?

      Also what are console players smoking if they’re running FPS multiplayer games on listen servers? Is there a 4 player limit per game or something?

      It’s one of the reasons why you will notice steep decline in graphics during console MP. Often, AntiAliasing, Bloom, Soft Shadows (or all shadows) will be removed and texture sizes will be slightly reduced. Many of the games do, indeed, feature less players than their PC counterpart. For example, TF2 can run up to 32 players on PC, 16 players for 360. Most console FPS games tend to do either 8v8 or 4v4.

    • Mungrul says:

      @LevingLasVegas: Apart from MAG on PS3 of course ;)
      I own all 3 console platforms here, and bought the PS3 last, but of the 3, it’s the one that gets the most use now. I completely resent paying to have access to shoddy P2P multi-player, so I simply don’t, and this means that if a cross-platform title has multi-player, I’ll buy it on the PS3.
      Microsoft really pulled a fast one on the public with Live, but there’s some weird mass-Stockholm syndrome thing going around concerning it. People who pay for Live defend it to the utmost and falsely accuse PSN of being an inferior service. It’s ridiculous.

      Of course, both console platforms pale in comparison to the PC’s online capabilities, especially when considering legacy games. On the PC, you can still play original Quake or Doom online to this day, whereas on the console platforms there’s the inevitability of the platform provider switching off access to online multiplayer. Halo and Halo 2 may have “revolutionised” FPS multi-player gaming on consoles, but the service has been turned off. The only way to play those games online now is on the PC.

    • Mark Raymond says:

      The fact is, if you own an Xbox and don’t have a PS3 and want to play online, you have to pay the toll. It’s not like there’s any other competing service other than Xbox LIVE out there on that console, so it’s a case of either having access or not having access. I don’t like it, but it’s simply the way it is. It’s a bit like the Apple argument. In other words, you want to use an Apple computer, and you pay a premium, even if technically more value might be had with another platform. But you want to use a Mac, so the rest doesn’t matter, really.

      A subscription-based CoD would have to, like XBL, be a two-tiered system, whereby people who subscribe get access to leaderboards, additional levels, DLC at a discount/free, etc. Not outlandish, tbh.

      However, I do wonder if CoD has reached its peak in terms of popularity, and that it’s all downhill from here. In which case, there might be two thought waves on this: try and maintain popularity for as long as possible, by not charging subscription; or alternative proposition numero dos, rinse your existing fanbase as much as possible before the franchise folds in on itself. Maybe Activision are going with the first line of thought.

  5. pkt-zer0 says:

    Pachter, huh. He says funny things, for instance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Hf4i7XtSs

    • Premium User Badge AndrewC says:

      That’s awesome. The lesson i’ve learnt from this is that if you speak in a calm, level voice at all times you too can have a plush office just from talking absolute nonsense.

      Come on AIMs! You’ve already got the absolute nonsense part down pat!

    • Sigma Draconis says:

      See, I had forgotten who Michael Pachter was until watching those clips. Then I remembered, “Oh, it’s that frequently wrong guy.”

    • Wulf says:

      The problem with that though is that ‘AIM’ essentially encapsulates every single male with Internet access on the planet. The problem is is that I don’t think that there are enough fancy offices and plush chairs to go around, hence why the secret of calmness is so closely guarded. :p

    • Jhoosier says:

      I learned more from reading the video description, about walruses. The video made my ears bleed.

    • Premium User Badge AndrewC says:

      DON’T YOU CALL ME ANGRY

  6. Iain says:

    I hate, hate, hate the word monetize as a business buzzword.

    Should read ” reticence to charge for multiplayer” or ” reticence to make profit from multiplayer”

  7. Turin Turambar says:

    “…Considering that each of the publicly traded publishers exists to maximize shareholder value…”

    lots of companies fall in this trap, they try to “maximize shareholder value” but really they only exchange long term profit for short term profit. Doing some maths, if they really want to maximize value, long term profit is usually better.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Not for shareholders who can then move their shares onto another fast-payout thing.

      It’s not a design flaw of capitalism. It’s a feature.

      KG

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Beat me to it. Truly maximizing shareholder value means building as much trust with your customers as possible, so that they’ll keep buying your products. Even Kotick probably understands that getting Customer A to buy Activision games every year is far better than charging him extra for one game this year and then never getting any money from that customer next year.

      EDIT: True, Kieron, so if I was in charge of Activision (or any publically traded game publisher) I’d want to try to attract the sort of shareholder who is willing to stick with the company for the long haul so that I would stay employed for longer. Too many shareholders with shortsighted attitudes (or a few shareholders with shortsighted attitudes with too big a percentage of the company) will do more to ruin a company than an incompetent CEO because bad CEOs can be more quickly and easily replaced than bad shareholders.

      So as a CEO, the trick is to not just run your company right, but manage your bosses: the shareholders.

      Public trading of companies is not my ideal model of company ownership (PLCs are more stable, IMHO), but there is a way to do it right.

      EDIT 2: Don’t mind me, but I did get an A in my Business Studies GCSE. ;)

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      It’s true in america at least that you have a legal obligation to your shareholders to pursue the act of making money. It’s a form of protection for those investors but turns into something of an ugly pressure when you consider the lengths some companies go to in order to continue being profitable.

      I think the stock market may well have ruined everything forever. It’s speculation on confidence. It’s ethereal money making. It’s nonsense. And it’s the financial foundation on which our society rests. Oh dear.

      I’m not actually disputing the points above, just complaining a little. I hate everything.

    • Jhoosier says:

      @ Stephen Roberts: Me too.

    • squirrel says:

      Too many concerns for even profit maximization alone. If they screw up by angering gamers who expect every non-MMO shooter game to be non-subscription based, the whole money-printing franchise “Call of Duty” could be destroyed from one simple mistake.

    • Ovno says:

      Please let it be true

    • Jac says:

      I think warren buffet would disagree with you there Kieron.

    • Arnaud says:

      KG, it is not really a feature, more of a recent derive of it.
      Or a return to it if you prefer.
      It’s speculation at its worst.

      Originally, investor would be in a company for the long term and making money from dividends.
      Now, most investors want to make money from stock appreciation.
      This leads to target short term gain and stock price increase instead of stability and dividends.
      Cash out now and forget about the consequences…

      Sad.

    • Warskull says:

      That’s why you only go public when you want to cash out. Shareholders are one of the easiest ways to ruin a company. It stops being about running a long term successful company and starts being about spiking this quarters earnings up at all costs to make the shareholders some money and encourage the frenzy. Cutting R&D, firing large amounts of employees (good employees), and exploiting your customers are encouraged because its a great way to make your profits look better for one quarter, even if it ensures you can’t keep up in the long term.

      Activision has become a great example of this. They are running a small handful of game names into the ground and driving away all of their actual talent. Tony Hawk is already dead, Guitar Hero is fairly dead now, it is only a matter of time before something else shiny catches the masses eye and Call of Duty falls off its top slot. Then Activision has nothing to sell and it all boils down to the Blizzard side of things.

    • Martha Stuart says:

      this long term profits nonsense only applies to major and stable stocks such as your Blue chips or fortune 500s. and tech companies and software companies have alsways been “live by the sword, die by the sword” you either get hugley rich really fast or loose enverything. I.E. cisco systems. i both love them and hate them. fukin cisco..,…..

  8. Bornemannen says:

    Considering that Cataclysm will influence the Activision-Blizzard stock my guess is that the head of publishing decided to avoid a lot of Angry Internet Men by not charging for CODBLOPS multiplayer.

    WoW Cataclysm = Lots of money and happy users.

    Charging for COPLBLOPS multiplayer = Angry Internet Men and less money.

    I see this as a very sensible business decision.

    • Delusibeta says:

      Exactly. Basically, moving to subscription would kill the series in two games, rendering Activision entirely reliant on Blizzard.

    • frags says:

      Not necessarily. Remember Modern Warfare 2? Angry internet man couldn’t stop it from being one of the best selling game in history of video games for all platforms.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Yeah, but then they didn’t try to charge for the multi-player part, did they?

      It’s one thing to piss off users by excluding the odd bit of functionality (even if ‘odd bit’ was something like dedicated servers). It’s something else entirely to piss off users then charge them for the privilege!

    • Snall says:

      @frags

      It’s not our fault most people suck.

      Heh.

    • Premium User Badge AndrewC says:

      AIMs aren’t the ones these companies worry about, as AIMs are most likely to A: complain whatever the company does and B: buy the product anyway.

      More to worry about the millions who will simply move to a free MW clone, as they aren’t quite as psychotically obsessed with loyalty to or being betrayed by particular companies as the AIMs seem to be.

    • Premium User Badge phuzz says:

      @snall
      Yes, it kind of is the fault of the AIM/boycotters
      see, if you just give actibliz the money anyway, they’re not going to listen to you are they?

    • Delusibeta says:

      Basically, should Activision puts in a subscription, I expect the vast majority of the Johnny Casuals to go “Oi! Subscription? Stuff this” and ask for a refund/trade it in immediately.

    • Highstorm says:

      @Delusibeta

      It’s true and you can already find proof of it by reading comment threads on articles about console MMOs (DC Universe and FFXIV for example) requiring a subscription. The non-PC, console generation is completely mystified about paying per month to play a game they’ve already purchased (despite whatever subscriptions they pay to XBox Live or Playstation Plus) and – at least as far as AIM commenting goes – seem to largely write off any game that says it will have a subscription fee. Though as I write this I’d be interested to see what the peak subscription numbers were for FFXI on PS2.

    • Thants says:

      I’m a PC gamer and I’m a little mystified about paying per month to play a game I’ve already purchased.

  9. President Weasel says:

    The world-shattering success of the series is built upon the free multiplayer. It would take a brave, or foolish, Pachter to seriously suggest going to paid multiplayer when the other, similar, Medal of War Battlefield Honour games will still be free, and when many MMO’s are seeing increased success by going from paid to free-to-play.

    Monetising it with microtransactions, though…

  10. dethtoll says:

    I’m so sick of hearing from this guy.

  11. Tuco says:

    Same old Patcher, always advocating customer milking.
    What an annoying man.

  12. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Hahaha!!!

  13. Premium User Badge Okami says:

    Pachter: Beeing wrong about absolutely everything since….. way too long

  14. Premium User Badge oceanclub says:

    This makes as much sense as announcing that a clothes firm has betrayed shareholders’ trust by not making garments that fall apart in a month.

    P.

    • Wulf says:

      If Pachter was a part of that industry, he’d likely make that comment. Some people just genuinely think that way, and by that way I mean those who believe that customers are simply a resource to be harvested as efficiently and effortlessly as possible, whilst expending the least amount of resources, time, and money in doing so. To such people, the customer is less of a person and more of a resource node, to them, you’re no different than precious metals, just waiting to be prised from the Earth’s loving embrace, and it’s just a matter of figuring out the math to do achieve this goal. Have we ever been anything more than statistics? I’d say that’s ever so slightly scary to me, but you get used to it after a while. It’s pretty much the norm, isn’t it? I’m not going to hate Pachter for being part of the established norm.

      It’s odd that I’d prefer even Caesar’s Legion to a bloody market analyst, though I suppose it’s that the one is honest about it and recognised as such by all and sundry, whereas the other is completely complacent to this fact and simply an aspect of the way things are.

      Sure, I’d like a world where the customer is the primary concern, but really only small and/or independent businesses do that particularly well.

    • Jad says:

      To such people, the customer is less of a person and more of a resource node, to them

      And the thing is, even if you think this way, Patcher is doing it wrong. If a game has resource nodes where you can vary the rate at which you extract resources, and if you accelerate that rate the node is depleted even faster (consumers rebelling against the milking), then the correct strategy would be to not push that dial except in emergencies. Patcher is a n00b shouting at industry veteran Activision to “suck ‘em dry, dude, it’s awesome!” and Activision is refusing to take a losing strategy.

      In large part because Activision tried that strategy in the past, with the Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero, and is feeling the hurt from the exhaustion of those resource nodes. They are basically down to only two nodes (albeit enormous ones): Blizzard and COD. They are trying their best to milk those franchises just enough to make maximum money, without destroying those resource nodes. And “monetizing” COD multiplayer would very likely kill the franchise.

      (of course, the “game” of the market is way more complicated than the game described above, and the rules are hidden and frequently changing, so who knows)

  15. Gabe Kotick says:

    Maybe Activision should create item stores within their Call of Duty franchise?

  16. Atic Atac says:

    If Activision are smart they should be looking at League of Legends as inspiration. Make COD Multiplayer free but have an elaborate Microtransaction model surrounding it. It would make more money than a lesbian porn movie starring Jessical Alba and Michelle Rodriguez.

    • Unrein says:

      That… That… That is the most beautiful mental image I have ever had.

  17. Navagon says:

    Ah yes, the guy that the term twatbastard was coined for.

  18. Jannakar says:

    I think they could take the COD series more into World of Tanks territory and make it work with subs, but just charging for MP in the existing game/gamestyle would probably make less money that the current setup.

    Activision are hardly shy about squeezing cash of out their costumers, so I’m sure that if they thought that they could make it work, they would have done so already,

  19. Heliocentric says:

    They are looking after shareholders, if they ask for a monthly fee suddenly they find their older games and their competition replace their new stuff.

    Sometimes serving the customer well is the best way to serve the shareholder.

  20. Flappybat says:

    The whole thing is moot because free to play with an item store is far more successful a business model or seeing how good their sales are charging for the game and still having an item store (ala Sims 3).

  21. Niels Walta says:

    Meanwhile Valve (and even some of their fans) are making money from selling virtual hats. You hear that, Pachter? VIRTUAL HATS!

    • Gabe Kotick says:

      PCGAMER gave the Polycount Pack 81. 81, for a £30 item pack! http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/11/03/team-fortress-2-polycount-pack-review/

    • Tomm says:

      Except it’s not really a £30 pack, seeing as everything in the pack is pretty easily found/crafted.

    • Premium User Badge Rinox says:

      What Tomm said.

    • Gabe Kotick says:

      @Tomm, if someone was to buy the Polycount Pack, how much would it cost?

    • Navagon says:

      Gotta love the apologists. Yes, you can get it for free. So what are they selling it at £30 for then? Because that’s not a totally fucking ludicrous thing to do? They sell the entire game for a fraction of that.

    • Premium User Badge Rinox says:

      You don’t have to spend any money to get the items from the polycount pack or to play TF2 (other than then initial purchase, obviously). We’re talking about potentially paying for being able to play online altogether. There is no comparison.

      Gotta love people who are angry at having the choice of buying things.

    • Gabe Kotick says:

      @Rinox, Gotta love on the fenceists.

    • Premium User Badge Rinox says:

      Not sure I get what you mean? You mean that you are on the fence about it, not sure if it’s a bad or good thing?

      Because I can see why people are worried about the TF2 item store. As in, that it may perhaps lead to actual malpractices a la Activision. I just don’t see why people would rage against the store or the concept of paying for otherwise freely available items itself, since it doesn’t do any harm in itself to anyone or the game.

    • Gabe Kotick says:

      You sound like you’re on the fence.

    • Premium User Badge Rinox says:

      I thought that meant that you were undecided? Or is there another meaning I don’t know? Cause I don’t think I’m undecided about it. The shop is fine.

    • SlayerCake says:

      @Gabe Kotick Maybe if you repeat your joke for the thousandth time we’ll laugh at it!

    • Tomm says:

      I myself don’t like the idea of buying virtual hats/weapons, so I don’t and it doesn’t affect how I play the game, seeing as I’ve picked up most of the decent stuff anyway, and the pack bonuses aren’t brilliant.

      There are subsets of TF2 players however: those who have disposible income and want to buy hats; those who don’t have time to craft/find weapons and want a cool new weapons straight away;etc. and Valve have realised this and catered to their needs with the store.

      @Gabe Kotick, @Navagon, what you seem to miss is that you aren’t forced to buy anything from the store/Polycount pack if you don’t want to, and you don’t have to buy the whole pack if you do. I’d be very surprised if a lot of people had bought everything in it, seeing most only play a handful of classes. Do you buy every new product that comes into your supermarket? No you buy the things you want! Speaking of which.

      It’s the same with this damn Steam Treasure Hunt, forums ablaze with people saying “I hate Valve, I’m not paying hundreds of dollars for a stupid hat”, failing to realise that you aren’t buying the games for the hat, you’re buying the games if you want to play them and the hat is a bonus.

      In anyways, comparing free items in TF2 that have no effect on the game to not being able to play the game without paying is rediculous.

  22. MrTambourineMan says:

    Fuckin capitalist pig.

  23. Maykael says:

    I am sure the Kotick & Co. have considered first and foremost the welfare of the shareholders when they decided not to use a subscription model for Black Ops. Activision’s track record shows that if it can charge more money for its products and can get away with it (i.e., not lose many customers) it will. Probably the marketing data revealed that a subscription fee for an online shooter would have hurt more than Pachter thinks. Let’s not forget these are relatively hard times for the average consumer.

    On the other hand, it was announced that Black Ops would get extensive DLC, so there’s your monetization right there. You can easily fool people into paying a subscription by over-pricing 4-5 maps at 15 dollars per one or two months. Modern Warfare 2 showed that this is entirely possible.

    It seems that the business analysts of the gaming industry are just as useful as political analysts. They either state the obvious, go “Captain Hindsight” or talk unsubstantiated bullshit. Guess which of these applies to Pachter?

  24. Cinnamon says:

    I think that one of the ways that RPS manages to look more intelligent than other gaming blogs is by avoiding the temptation to reprint this sort of thing.

    • Urael says:

      I think the mere act of printing shouldn’t be taken as a sign of intelligence – it’s how the subject is handled that decides that. For example, printing Keith Vaz’s wrong-headed comments about gaming only served to further the work/crusade of RPS hive-node Walker in making sure the Vaz’s of the world do not win this rather crucial argument. This can be taken the same way.

    • Cinnamon says:

      A problem I have with most games blogs is that they mostly publish things that are irrelevant to their subject or just generally reporting on whatever PR sends them. Whatever Michael Pachter says is only marginally news worthy and is certainly an example of self promotion with little benefit to most of us. I could say the same about Keith Vaz but I don’t really see RPS reporting on everything he says. Although I do find game politics news to be tedious, repetitive and of very little use when it comes to playing and appreciating computer games.

  25. passingstranger says:

    Michael Pachter really is a joke. It seems surprising to me that there are people who really take him seriously. I respect that he’s trying to take his non-industry analyst knowledge and apply it to this one, but there are some cognitive disconnects that occur which he just cannot get over. This is one.

  26. Tomm says:

    Surely the title should read, ‘”Analyst” disappointed with Activision’s Plan’?

  27. hiver says:

    Maximize them profits!! Dammeeet!

    :cartman rage:

  28. frymaster says:

    are we sure activision aren’t getting money from multiplayer?

    The standard deal with games that restrict servers to “trusted partners” is it’s a barter deal, not a money one… the partners (and it’s relatively easy to become one) have to agree to abide by certain restrictions on the number of servers they run per box, that they won’t run hacked servers that let people without multiplayer keys on (duh), and that for every x slots they rent out, they provide y slots of public access/community servers for free.

    But CODBLOPS doesn’t just have trusted partners, they have an exclusive trusted partner… you have to wonder what’s in it for Activision, and one of the things that immediately springs to mind is “money”. Mind you, given gameservers.com is subcontracting in some areas where they don’t have a presence, maybe it’s a “you manage this so we don’t have to” deal ie pure barter, since the trusted partner scheme has the downside of taking up some employee time in administering the thing.

    • Delusibeta says:

      Yeah, Activision is probably getting a slice from every PC server, but the console folk are still freeloading.

  29. MkHarris says:

    But surely they are charging for multiplayer in selling the game?
    Hardly anyone is gonna buy a COD game simply for singleplayer.
    Hell my brother plays the shit out of MW2 and has never even bothered with the singleplayer.

    Unless he means subscription-based multiplayer? In which case he is (even more) insane.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Sounds like he was talking about some sort of charge to access multiplayer. Whether that’s subscription based or micropayments based or something else is unclear. I think the guy basically looked at stuff like WoW & went “HAY GUISE YOU SHOULD BE DOING THAT FOR THIS GAME TOO”.
      However they already do this to an extent with the multiplayer DLC from what I can see. £13 for some extra maps most of which are remakes from previous games?

    • Delusibeta says:

      Saw Patcher in a GamesTrailers video explaining his argument for this. Basically, it goes “People are playing CoD for 100+ and buying less games. Milk it!”

    • squirrel says:

      I dont know. I buy a COD game mainly for its singleplayer. Sounds stupid but there are always better online shooters than COD which is an absolutely arcade-style gameplay. COD, however, stands out by its cinematic atmosphere which I could found challenged by any other shooters, not even shooters with specific theme like F.E.A.R. I rather prefer Counter-Strike than COD with no singleplayer.

  30. cdm says:

    Sounds like Dave Tosser

  31. Malcolm says:

    He’s got a point, if they took CoD multiplayer, charged a tenner a month, and supplied periodic updates to keep people interested they would be sitting on a WoW style golden goose I reckon. Not popular, but I think enough people would bite.

    I suspect the main sticking point would be that it’s primarily console based and I’m not sure MS/Sony permit subscription payments for games?

    • Delusibeta says:

      They have done in the past, I think. Definitely Sony, with the Final Fantasy MMOs and Monster Hunter MMO. I’ve heard there was a game that had a subscription, but for every month of game subscription came with a month of Xbox Live Gold. Dunno if there was one, now I come to think of it.

    • Thants says:

      I think everyone would just switch to one of the 5 other games with similar multiplayer that don’t charge.

  32. Longrat says:

    BOBBY.
    KOTICK.
    MUST.
    PAY.

  33. Clovis says:

    I don’t understand the reactions to this guy like he’s somehow horrible. Activision should definitely find a way to charge a monthly fee for the next COD. They’d have to throw in some minor additions to the game to justify this, but, in the end, COD is like crack for many console players. They’d swallow a (small) monthly fee just like they eat up those ridiculous map packs.

    I can understand thinking that would be a bad long term business decision, but it seems that some here feel that it is wrong to do so even if it is a good business decision. Of course games and gamers should be monetized as much as possible.

    • Premium User Badge Devan says:

      “Of course games and gamers should be monetized as much as possible.”

      I think I understand where you’re coming from, but please realize that the above “should” is a value judgement, and people who do not share your values could rationally not share your conclusion.

      My view is that games exist for the benefit of playing them, and the industry is a side-effect of games being both in demand and costly to make. If our games could be created at no cost then the industry would not exist and IMHO we would be no worse off.

      Of course, games do cost money and that creates commercial opportunity, and attracts those who seek to exploit such opportunities. Perhaps their values say that anything that improves currency flow within an economy is a good thing, or that maximizing profit should be the only high-level priority of a corportation.

      I’m not going to argue against those values right now, but they are not matters of fact and it is entirely reasonable for someone to disagree with them.
      For example, I think the best financial structure for a development company would be a non-profit organization. The money that would have gone to shareholders can instead do things like:
      - improve salaries
      - improve the product
      - reduce the retail price

      All of which are good for the games and good for the gamers. And that’s what I value.

  34. Premium User Badge Ninja Dodo says:

    Nothing good has ever come of a creative company going public.

  35. pimorte says:

    @Tomm

    The Polycount hats (which are essential to recieve the stat bonus) require nearly TWO YEARS worth of solid play to get the materials for them – assuming everything goes perfectly right for the crafter. It’ll likely take longer in reality.

    • Tomm says:

      Not really sure I agree. The hats require 4 refined and a polycount weapon which is as much as any hat. Only takes a couple of months MAX of casual play to get enough items. Not really sure what can go wrong in that process either, seeing as the result is only 1 possible item. I crafted my last random Pyro hat about a month ago, and I almost have enough to craft another.

      For me as a mainly Pyro or Soldier player, the packs whilst giving nice items like the Degreaser (which I got 3 of in the first couple hours of play) force you to use often undesirable items. For example the Degreaser makes the Axetinguisher mighty fun, but to get the speed bonus you have to use the Powerjack which isn’t as good. Same with the Black Box, would rather have the default Launcher.

      Valve have been very clever to assure that the Polycount packs don’t offer amazing bonuses for paying customers, merely different playstyles. None of them appeal to me and if they did, I certainly wouldnt be buying the whole shebang, probably crafting as much as possible.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Actually, the Powerjack is better in almost every way- you’re just using it wrong. Because you should be using the Degreaser with it, this means you should be setting your enemy on fire, blasting them with the shotgun, and then crushing them with the highest non-crit melee damage in the game.
      Of course, you’re more vulnerable versus Heavies and Engineers for this (when wearing the hat). For Heavies, you already have to ambush them, so when outside a combination of compression blast and shotgun shots will whittle away a bad Heavy (if it uses a Natascha, chances are it can’t aim!) and as for a good Heavy, you’ll have to do hit and run attacks on them like you would’ve anyways.
      Note the Axetinguisher does 195 damage on a burning target, but the Powerjack always does 82. So a quick puff of flame, shotgun blast, then compression blast into a wall followed by a Powerjack swing will kill most classes anyways.
      There’s other issues with the Axetinguisher. It doesn’t work in water, leaving you with few weapons (if you have the Flare Gun you’re utterly screwed on this front!), doesn’t work versus enemy Pyros (and if you don’t hate Backburner newbs then you may be one) and it won’t save you when you get a kill whilst under fire.
      And since we’re talking about using the weapon as a set, only Scouts can outrun you when you have the full set. They can’t outrun you while running backwards, though, which is what most reflexively do. Scouts are another reason to keep your Shotgun and not grab the Flare Gun, especially when the Flare Gun only does 41 damage as a mini-crit. It’s also bugged with the Degreaser, and currently will make you wait to fire it in some instances, as if it had needed to reload (that’s a bug).
      So, if you don’t have issues finding a Medic, sure, go with the Axetinguisher or whatever. But if you’re like me, running interference, holding off groups off enemies at a time, protecting against spam rockets and grenades, then give the Powerjack another think. Because Medics always go for Heavies, then Soldiers and Demomen, first.

    • Tomm says:

      OK, I may have overlooked that one, probably because I haven’t used it. I just prefer to play with the Axestinguisher, puffing an enemy (or group of enemies) with the Degreaser then quickswitching and axe-ing like a madman. One hit killing most classes except heavies. I rate it better than having to switch between all my weapons, and I think most would agree.

      As regards to water, I can’t really think of any maps that I play (and I play most) that have huge amounts of water. In any case I’d rather be shotgunning than relying on my melee. Again, Pyros are easily taken care of with a compression blast an a shotgun to the face. I certainly don’t want to be meleeing them with anything.

      “So, if you don’t have issues finding a Medic, sure, go with the Axetinguisher or whatever. But if you’re like me, running interference, holding off groups off enemies at a time, protecting against spam rockets and grenades, then give the Powerjack another think. Because Medics always go for Heavies, then Soldiers and Demomen, first.”

      I do all that with the Axestinguisher, regardless of having a Medic. Might have to have another look at the Powerjack tho, if I can be arsed to craft one.

  36. Wichtel says:

    I really feel for all those poor shareholders ….

  37. Pijama says:

    Being myself an Econ student, I want to punch that guy. HARD.

  38. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Michal Pachter in this case is of the opinion that the longevity of recent multiplayer fps games is causing people to buy fewer games, my deconstruction of his argument is as follows:

    1: the multiplayer component of a FPS is not a new phenomenon, infact the most widely played games of the last decade could arguably be Quake 3 & counter strike, both long tail games with great monetisation across the lifetime without subscriptions.

    2: it is my belief that games are getting shorter and players are turning them over quicker, deus ex a long single player game i played over 11 times each occurrence lasting longer that the total time i’ve spent with the fps i’ve played the most (TF2)

    3: it costs activision nothing to run call of duty multiplayer, this is not the case with the games they’ve managed to charge a subscription on (WoW)

    4: if people buying less games as a result why does the newest installment sell even more than the last, surely they’re all playing cod4?

    finally activision can see that losing £40 a year per head isn’t worth trying to switch that to £7 a month and taking the inevitable PR Smacking they drastically can’t afford.

  39. Player1 says:

    For me this kind of talk by some spooky “anal-ysts” is really heading in the completely wrong direction. I have two friends of mine, both diehard Xbox 360 fans, who bought a PS3 just because i got one and told them i liked it. Now we have been playing Bad Company 2 the last couple of weeks on PS3 and though they also own it on Xbox 360 they said they will never go back. PSN might not yet be as good as Live, but in a game you don’t notice, and those two guys are the kind that could easily afford to pay for Live, but they say that they prefer the free model… I would never spend a dime to play online, and to be honest i think that would be a chance for Indie Games, if ever this pay-what-you-play model would get through on the PC. But as we have seen with Microsoft’s GFW it just doesn’t work with an audience that is used to use the net for free. This Pachter guy is a clown and i still don’t get why people listen to what he says…

  40. squirrel says:

    Shareholders are not consisted of greedy-as-devil speculators, but of long-term investors. So stop making those son-of-the-bitch financial recommendation, you filth banksters. You know how easy a game franchise can be destroyed by a badly implemented game?! The only genre of online game that justify charging of periodic fee is well implemented MMORPG which get people involved (but not addicted, mind you) in an alternative life. I see no online shooters in the market can achieve this. So now what, you what a game company to come up with a game which charges as hell, bring in a huge amount of cash, than you buy the stock, and sell it before gamers are angered and start boycott the game company, and you laugh at the executives of the game company commenting “how foolish you are to supply us some hot cash without leaving some to yourself. We are going to extract cash from next firm, bye.”

    So stop it, greedy banksters, from ruining our industries one by one. It’s for your greed with no bound, which allow China to flood our world with non-durable, poorly manufactured products, to drive thousands of hard-working, very skilled workers out of work. We consumers are using electronic products which are going to break down after a year or so, wasting our precious Earth’s resources to keep producing new electronic products which functions we dont need. Stop it!!

  41. Jetsetlemming says:

    Lol.
    “Activision didn’t take my word as law on their own very successful product! Me, the man who is NEVER WRONG! This is a betrayal of the shareholders, also blasphemy” – Michael “HD Wii” Pachter

    Edit: Michael “Steam trade-ins for Steam Wallet credit” Pachter.

  42. Actung Englander says:

    Michael Patcher is advocating what every gamer does not want to have. If gamers hate the idea of paying for MP than they will stop buying Call of Duty. If they stop buying COD than Activision makes less money. Activision makes less money than share price falls. Share price falls than shareholders dump the stock.

    Go back to school Michael……….

  43. golden_worm says:

    This guy must have watched panorama and got the impression that games are addictive, hence people will be hooked and so desperate they’d pay anything for their next fix.

    Silly analcyst.

  44. K says:

    Am I the only one who thinks it would be hilarious if Activision actually charged for Codblops multiplayer? It would be like seeing setting his own palace on fire, and I would laugh with glee. And I would also mock the people who play codblops and pay tons of money for it, when I can play TF2 for free, and that’s a great game on top of that!

  45. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Aww, somebodies having a hissy fit because his entirely unfounded prediction turned out to be bollocks, cute ^_^

  46. Ergates says:

    I’d guess that he’s either never heard the story of the man with the golden goose, or just didn’t understand it.

  47. Jimbo says:

    Of course he’s disappointed; he’s been predicting it at every opportunity for about the last 18 months!

    Calling Michael Pachter a Magic 8-Ball is an insult to Magic 8-Balls. He’s still a brilliant guy to have around though, because he’s wrong with such remarkable consistency that they can just assume the opposite of whatever he predicts. It’s so uncanny that I’m starting to think the entire industry is actually altering their plans around his predictions just to wind him up.

    Srsly though, I quite like Pachter. He seems like a nice enough chap – just prone to saying some crazy (and crazy wrong) things from time to time.

  48. rocketman71 says:

    OMG. Pachter’s drivel on RPS. This certainly is a bad year.

    Calling Michael Pachter a Magic 8-Ball is an insult to Magic 8-Balls

    Great one, Jimbo. And SO true. I don’t understand why 98% of the gaming websites treat his word as gospel when he barely can make an accurate prediction pull something correct out of his ass.

  49. EC- says:

    Hmm, I want some tacos.

  50. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    Wow.
    “Considering that each of the publicly traded publishers exists to maximize shareholder value, we view their reticence to monetize multiplayer as a betrayal of shareholder trust.”

    I just wanted to repeat that one again. What a simply wonderful statement from what must be a wonderful person.

    Edit: OMG guys! You HAVE to read the rest of the article. This guy is ON FIRE
    “We firmly believe that until the publishers address monetization of multiplayer, game sales will continue to be challenged by the publishers’ altruistic decision to provide significantly more entertainment value per hour than ever in history.”

    WTF!!! This guy clearly thinks this multiplayer thing is going to be the shiz.