Speaking at the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch’s Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick talked about making Activision Blizzard the most profitable entertainment company in the world. One of the ways that might happen, he hinted, was using the same technique that crafted StarCraft II’s hour of in-game cinematics.
“If we were to take that hour, or hour and a half, take it out of the game, theorized Kotick. And we were to go to our audiences for whom we have their credit card information as well as a direct relationship and ask, ‘Would you like to have the StarCraft movie ‘, my guess is that . . . you’d have the biggest opening weekend of any film ever.”
Kotick noted that they could side-step the theatrical distribution model and sell to customers online, with a $20 or $30 price tag thrown out. “Within the next five years, you are likely to see us do that. That may be in partnership with somebody, it may be alone,” said Kotick.
“There will be a time where we capitalize on the relationship that we have with our audience, and deliver them something that is really extraordinary and let them consume it directly through us instead of theatrical distribution,” noted Kotick, adding that even if they distributed movies to consumers’ homes, “an extremely high percentage [of consumers] would then go to the theater then watch it again. That’s the nature of our consumer — a very enthusiast consumer.”
Kotick’s intent is to clearly keep as much money in house as possible, avoiding all the usual catches with Hollywood collaboration, like movie studios, film distributors and big-name actors. “For starters, our virtual characters don’t have agents, they don’t have managers, they don’t have lawyers,” said Kotick, noting inefficiencies in the way movies and TV shows do reshoots. “Our business is the exact opposite,” he said. “We can iterate and test and iterate and test until we get a really great result. And if you have the scale, the resources, capability and discipline that we have, that ensures a much better commercial result.”