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Activision CEO: Fans Shouldn't Rebel Against What's New

Not everyone is a fan of the new free-to-play model. But as Activsion Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg says, many aren't big fans of anything new.

The freemium model has already been embraced by several game developers, and many analysts and other industry insiders say free-to-play could be the future of interactive entertainment. And despite the complaints by the hardcore veterans, Hirshberg warns against rebelling against new ideas.

Here's what the very candid executive had to say in a recent Edge interview:

"I think there’s a tendency in moments of disruption – [and] I don’t think this is industry-specific – to assume everything that’s new will destroy what came before. In many cases, the new thing creates a new marketplace and new demand, and then some entrenched and mature markets show remarkable staying power.

There wasn’t a day I worked in advertising [that] I didn’t hear about the death of the 30-second TV commercial. Originally, the VCR was going to kill it [laughs], then the Internet was going to kill it, the DVR was going to, satellite TV… It’s proved to be a resilient medium that’s still relevant today. There are a lot of similarities between what I experienced in the advertising business and what’s going on in gaming now."

Obviously, we should clarify that many gamers don't necessarily have a problem with the business side of freemium; the fans are often against it for other reasons. At the same time, you have to admit that Hirshberg has a point, and there are many instances of overreactions to new ideas and new technology that in fact didn't destroy "what came before."

Tags: activision, eric hirshberg, free to play, next generation, free-to-play games

10/8/2012 1:01:04 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (24 posts)

Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 1:16:12 PM

Based on my experience of freemium games and the business models that they engender, I don't have to admit he has a point, because in my view, he doesn't. But then, he's an advertizing executive pretending to be knowledgeable about business models in video games, so why should I be surprised about that? Because you know, advertizing is exactly the same as online free to play gaming. Though, when you stop and think about how such feemium games make there money, perhaps it does make sense that a former advertizing executive would be involved, *and* defending the concept against criticisms.

Agree with this comment 12 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 2:57:16 PM

Exactly what I figured.

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 1:40:41 PM

I hate games that have advertising flooding my screen, and I hate games that force me to buy items in order to succeed or even remotely compete with others. I would rather buy a game up front and go home with exactly what I bought and have it contain everything it says it contains. End transaction.

For me, it just doesn't make sense for my needs. It might be successful, but I won't be apart of it because it just doesn't suit my needs. Simple and objective.

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 1:58:14 PM

I agree with what he says to some extent. The problem comes with finding the balance between being open to innovations and holding on to what made certain things great in the past. There's been many changes this generation that rubbed off wrong, and this will always happen especially when something was very beloved. We get used to a standard and like things a certain way.I can't stand advertising, especially when it's in your face. As is mostly the case with freemium, never gonna be a fan.

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 2:04:25 PM

I love how he considers anyone that has a negative view of their business practices is someone that hates change. It's not that I (and I'm sure we) hate change, it's the fact that the "change" you've chosen is terrible.

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 5:30:31 PM

^ Exactly.

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 2:18:44 PM

Has anyone noticed that 30-second commercial spots have longer runs now than they used to? I see an awful lot of commercials that are 2 - 5 years old being simply repurposed with different graphics overlaid. Why? Because they are too damn expensive to make. Companies that don't reuse are making their commercials more cheaply ... (notice how the quality is really awful with all but the richest corporations)? The viability, (and for that matter, sustainability), of commercials IS slipping, which does not bode well for this gentleman's argument.

Last edited by Lemon_Saint on 10/8/2012 2:19:29 PM

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 2:20:07 PM

Tell that to that motherf*cking Gecko.

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 4:20:52 PM

Yeah, what world said.

And since when do geckos have accents???

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 6:14:33 PM


Oh my god, I'm laughing so hard right now.

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 2:19:30 PM

It's fear, we get scared when devs like Crytek just blatantly swear they will only make freemium games from here on out.

I don't think it will replace regular full games but only because it sucks hard and most of us hate it. I think that model belong with MMOs and their cousins only.

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 2:23:03 PM

Free to play is not for the consumer plain and simple. You used to pay 60 bucks and get a feature complete game and DLC came in the form of huge expansion packs or a straight up sequel.

I have played several free to play mmos, shooters and action games and only very small amount of games do it right. For example GW2 is sort of a mix but it is a prime example of an MMO without a monthly fee and no BS cash shops.

Now on the other end of the MMO spectrum there are mmos that make you rent out things like inventory space, buy items to access dungeons and buy xp scrolls in order for leveling up not to be a grind. Some of these MMOS if you payed for the stuff that is required to reach max level would run you close to 100$ a month.

Now on to the shooters, Tribes:Ascend does things...okay as far as you can earn everything from playing the game although it is a huge grind and I know many people who have impulse bought weapons because to be frank there are balance issues with the guns. Blacklight:Retribution is mostly good too but there are some OP guns that can only be purchased in the shop with real money HOWEVER, you can at least earn in game credits and buy most of the stuff with less grinding than tribes. But still this shows how shameless this model is, it literally prays off of human behavior and psychology to some degree. If someone has a gun you dont, and you keep getting killed by it you are more likely to impulse buy the gun than tough it out and grind. I have friends playing Tribes who have done this countless times.

The worst part is if you are new to tribes and just wanted to buy all the guns, packs, perks and offhand items it would run you over 200 dollars.

Tribes 2 came out 11 years ago and still has more content than tribes:Ascend and was 60 bucks with mod support. Even vanilla basic Tribes 2 had more than Tribes ascend currently has. Not to mention its more balanced.

EAs free to play battlefield heroes and battlefield 2 are also rip offs if you want to get most of the content.

Can you play the game without spending a dime? Sure but its not enjoyable and you are at a severe disadvantage in most of these games.

So when EA and Activision start saying its the future I know they are saying that with money bags in their eyes. Free to play has become one of the most lucrative business models for games because there are people who spend way more than a game is worth, and the lowest common denominator will impulse buy something for 99cents here and there and before they know it 100 bucks is gone and in most cases what they bought wasn't permanent.

Free to play will only work if the companies give enough for free and charge for fluff items and anything else that in no way gives an advantage. Lots of people like looking unique especially in a multiplayer game and if they have enough cosmetic items in say a shooter they can easily support the game on that alone.

I just dont trust these big companies who have clearly demonstrated to me that they aren't in the video game industry for the gamers but mostly to make money.

Before you say oh everyone needs to make money theyre just making a living. Well Valve, CDProjekt red, Runic Games, and several other companies on steam do just fine selling 20 dollar games and releasing free or really cheap content.

So to sum it up, F2P is a terrible idea. I have played enough to see through its promise and lies and know that only a handful of devs are ethical enough to do it right.

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Lawless SXE
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 3:08:36 PM

Sure we should. If the business practice that they are trying to force upon is as abominable and openly money-grubbing as most F2P models are, then why shouldn't we show our ire, especially when more and more companies are really dedicating themselves to this space for little purpose more than cashing in on the propensities of their audience to maximise profits. Moreover, F2P has the disadvantage of not being able to incorporate a linear campaign and isn't conducive to advancing story telling in games, but that's a personal gripe.

I can understand people reluctantly adopting new ideas, like Blu-Ray due to the initial cost, but that was an almost necessary step to improving the experience. Many of the business models being adopted in the gaming industry are not. The multiplayer boom, socification, online passes. Some like them and some never will.

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 3:36:08 PM

I have nothing against what's new.

But I hate the fact that we're being force-fed into some of this new tech such as "digital only" & those "F2P" money suction pits.
I want all of my games on disc, & only as a 1-time buy.

Hell, now I'm really starting to feel like I'm headed on a direct collision course to Crap World, without a certified escape plan.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 4:14:38 PM

For the record, I hate the idea of free-to-play. Hate it to what I perceive to be its rotten core.

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 4:23:16 PM

This coming from a company that hasn't put out anything new in a decade...

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Killa Tequilla
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 5:03:46 PM

Yea lol

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 6:43:07 PM

Wow, I didn't like F2P before I even really knew what it was. It's weird, my sister was into FarmVille a while back. (Oh look, my iPhone just corrected my spelling of FarmVille to capitalize the F and V) When my dad saw it he started playing and got into it. Not to brag, my dad is extremely intelligent. And when I would see people on Facebook giving him complements and telling him how cool his farm was I would laugh. It was awesome how he owned that game without ever spending a dime. Well, you know, if you can "own" on a game like FarmVille. (There's that auto-correct again)

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 7:52:52 PM

I don't hate change I welcomed RE4 like no one, RE5 and 6? no thanks.

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 7:56:42 PM

I have no issue with the concept of free-to-play. The way CCP is taking it on so far is working out just fine, but most companies will never do it the right way. So long as the paying player doesn't have a major advantage over the non-paying player I am all for it. It gives you a chance to see if the game is something you might like and really allows you the consumer to invest what you think the developers deserve. I have played a few games where I would have no issue paying more than $60 for the game, and yet I have played others where I wanted a say %90 refund. So for me I can see a future where free-to-play can work, I just don't think companies like EA and Activision are looking at the same future.

And if change was such a problem for us gamers and rebelling was so prevalent you wouldn't have a job Hirshberg. Seriously if we rebelled to change then why is it then that when you "changed" CoD from a WWII style game to a Modern Warfare style game that it became the highest selling franchise of all time? Not only that but it still sells great even when you rehash 2 or 3 old maps and charge $15 dollars for them. Go look at your own company before you have the nerve to say people rebel against change.

Last edited by Rogueagent01 on 10/8/2012 8:03:16 PM

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Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 10:25:13 PM

Played nexons combat arms for a bit - what a rip off that is

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012 @ 4:47:41 AM

people are afraid of change because you have given them a reason to do so.
of course there going to be worried the new will replace the old, isent that whats been happening this entire generation?
we use to be a story focused medium, then MP got more and more and more popular and now its the other way around.
we use to have a large variety of genres out there, now its shooter this, shooter that.
so of course people fear change because you have made them do so!

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Thursday, October 11, 2012 @ 2:57:46 PM

Traditional commercials only work because of repetitive brain washing. They should be made illegal because they are seriously not healthy or creative or good, most are just pointless jingles or confusing ideas to make you remember their products, and they repeat them over and over and over and over, in 1 T.V. hour there is 60% ad time, 40% show time, that is how they work, by force not by choice, and that is the problem when you start looking at gaming as lets force this upon them not let them choose. Advertisers are brain-washers and they basically control the market place and share in the first place so they should all have more respect than to criticize a group of consumers for their consumption preference.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012 @ 3:09:03 PM

I keep reading about exes complaining about how consumers feel... That is not their job!
What the?
I feel like these guys are mad their ideas aren't working and they are literally blaming the public for it. Get this strait executive wannabe you work for the gamers and what they want? We have money = you have product, so sit back relax in your big executive office and listen to the people and shut up, we don't care what you think we should think, you should be doing what we think you should think!

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