On Thursday the 10th of January 2019 Activision filed with the FCC to dissolve its relationship with the Destiny franchise, and its creator Bungie. This is the end of an almost decade long relationship starting in 2010. Activision shares started 6.9% lower in pre-market trading this morning, indicating a market opening price of $47.80, further signaling investors of the loss in faith consumers are having with Activision. Activision Blizzard stock has been in almost free fall mode in the last 30 days signalling a change in the market.
While this most recent drop in stock pricing may not seem that significant, when looking at the stock price over the last 5 years it becomes more apparent that investors are becoming less then optimistic in the publisher. Most of Activisions revenue generating strategy revolves around micro transactions from in-game shops. With the recent end of there relationship with Bungie the market is signalling it awareness of these issues.
Activision announced yesterday that they were making the move based on a lack of results on their investment in Destiny. Since the Destiny franchise is still being played I would venture to say that the royalties that Activision has to pay Bungie on the game are greater than the money they can squeeze out of players in micro transactions.
When Bungie left Microsoft after Halo Reach I was hopeful that there next step in FPS would be the next big thing. I was unimpressed with Destiny and Activision’s grubby hand prints can be seen all over the product. I am truly hopeful that now Bungie will have full independent control of Destiny that we could see a game evolve that would fill the hole in the market. FPS games have continued to decline in quality over the last decade. Sadly there are not many FPS games on market in the last five years that carry a decent story mode. These days there seem to be so few moments when larger developers and game creators have a chance to shine and do what they do best. So often excellent games are overshadowed by the corporation’s greed at needing more profit out of the same product each year.
It is one of the draw backs to our current economy, and it is ironic that it is now affecting the video game community in such a profound way. Gaming for the longest time been seen as a fringe activity of the nerdy folk. With its emergence into main stream culture so follows the benefits and draw backs of large companies having a say. Looking at the relationship between Blizzard and Activision they can no longer be seen as something separate from each other. They have merged into an unholy alliance and have destroyed some of the best games we had coming out 10 years ago. This merging of identities is behind the slow demise of World of Warcraft, but that is a subject for another day. At the heart of the toxic relationship between studios and game publishers is greed and the need for instant gratification. I know that some people will say this is what the current market demands. Not only the market in the sense of investors but also on the consumer end of these relationships. I cannot agree. Looking at studios like CD Projekt; there is room in the market for studios to make games in the right way.
Imagine if all studios and publishers waited to release content until it was truly ready to play. If the industry simply slowed down as a whole we would all benefit in the short and long-term with better games, and happier consumers. I hope the end of the relationship with Activision will help Bungie drive back to the thing that made them great. Being an excellent studio that makes an excellent product. I hope they sign a new publishing agreement in a manner that allows them to have full control of release and content readiness.
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