“For instance, he gives the game studios that are part of Activision the ability to lease their own office space, control personnel decisions, choose their own technology and set their own deadlines.”

Well, technically, so does everyone. Technically. The devil sure is in those details.

I am not sure this is a good sign for community people and the profession. None of the parts of this megacorporation have seen a need for any community management besides a) message boards, and b) telling people what they want to hear… and if those things turn out to be not true, well, the explanation pacified everyone at the time, so it’s all good. Besides, “there’s no money in it.” (Until there IS, and suddenly I have to listen to people who argued with me for years telling the NYT that they were right all along. It’s bound to happen, but that doesn’t mean I’m not irritated in advance!) Now, with the sheer size and accompanying expectations of the new beast, there’s little reason for this giant to innovate in the area of social connection. Sounds like they’re after their own Madden. I guess it’s good to have goals. But until they have their Madden on top of their Warcraft, and are therefore more settled, I suspect they’ll leave the social aspects to Pepperidge Fucking Farm.

It certainly is interesting, watching business cycles repeat themselves. Wonder when the next wave of small studios will start.



  1. Ken Sykora said,

    December 5, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    World of Earthworm-Jim-Craft anyone?

  2. Matthew said,

    December 5, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    I’ve always wondered if other people, especially people in the industry itself look at WoW’s forums and see the same clusterfuck that i do. I go back and forth between feeling sorry for their CMs and feeling angry at them. I feel sorry for them because i suspect their hands are tied when it comes to improving their community and their game. I feel angry because they don’t even seem to try to do anything except hide the problems and toe the company line.

    Am i wrong because of ignorance or bias on either account?

  3. Krinsath said,

    December 5, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    I still prefer Blizzivision as the name myself.

    Anywho, the WoW forums are horrid, but I think that’s more a factor of the size of the forums combined with the general ignorance of the population there due to the vast amount of (mis)information available at any one time. Any post their community people make is almost instantly derailed by someone complaining that they aren’t attending to their own private pet concern. The community there also has a very dog-eat-dog mentality that a boost to Class A is a nerf to Class B and the people who play Class B will almost immediately commence whining (a side-effect of a PvP aspect).

    Just John Gabriel’s theory in action really. That community in particular is probably too large to be managed effectively, so it’s a bad example.

    On the main, there’s a fine line to tread with community relations. You want a community that interacts with development, but you do not want your community to BECOME development. I’ve seen companies go to either extreme and both fell apart horribly. Until someone really hits the right balance, I think it’ll be hard for community weenies to really make any impression on the big-wigs to get anything done.

  4. Rawrasaur said,

    December 5, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    For those of us actiblizzion employees, this doesn’t really mean too much. Activision corporate’s always been pretty hands-off with its studios, so the need for community hasn’t gone up or down since the announcement. Activision-Blizzard as a brand is only for shareholders and investors; games are not actually going to be published under that name. For games with heavy multiplayer-aspects like Call of Duty, there will always be a need for community. They may consolidate community aspects, like an overall forum system. However, that’s still years away if at all.

  5. Joe Ludwig said,

    December 6, 2007 at 8:38 am

    The next round of new small studios started about a year ago. There are a TON of new little shops that are building downloadable games for XBLA. And lots of them are talking about WiiWare and Playstation Home. Who knows, maybe a few of them will even release their stuff on Steam.

  6. Taymar said,

    December 6, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Community? requires you to agree to their their terms and conditions before you can read the press release on their site? I can’t see that interacting with the public is a strong point.

  7. Dartwick said,

    December 6, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    Dont diss Schlonger 🙂

    Arreat Summit made a community very happy. And it was mainly his efforts. Different communities are served different ways.

    He was maybe the first community guy ever for an online game besides MUDs.

  8. Phaltran said,

    December 7, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    As a customer, I’m not sure there is a need for an external community for WoW. (no interest in Activision’s games or consoles in general) The game itself allows so much interaction and communication, and every guild I know has it’s own forum so the only reason I ever go to the WoW forums is to look up upcoming patch information or support answers to technical issues. I’ve tried browsing the different sections and threads. It’s overwhelming. Each section is a community unto itself. I don’t see how anyone could spend significant time there. You could easily spend 8 hours in the game and 16 hours in the forums to try and keep up.

    I don’t see a need for real life events either. Blizzcon looked interesting and I’d like to go, but the location and cost of it were prohibitve. I expect this is deliberate to get a tiny percentage of the players and keep attendance manageable.

    Both of those point out the main issue with community and why I think that Blizzard makes no attempt at it: sheer size. 9 million players is unprecedented. How do you begin to manage a community of that size? If you sub-divide it into logical divisions (server, geography, faction, etc.) you lose diversity. If you do have a real life event, there’s only a small chance that players are on the same server so it turns into a “well I have this piece and that rep” or “it’s different on our server” conversational event.

    I’m not in the industry nor do I consider my 10 years of MMO playing and sometimes community activity any basis of expertise, but I seem to be missing your point entirely. Maybe I don’t understand your definition of “community relations.” What do you expect them to do? What would you do if you were in charge of their community relations?

  9. December 10, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    […] BlizzActivision – Mergers, money, MBAs, and the future, with a nod to Sanya […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: