Activision CEO Worried NextBox, PS4 May Have "Slow Start"

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Activision CEO Worried NextBox, PS4 May Have "Slow Start"

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Bobby Kotik noted that "uncertainties" about Microsoft and Sony's upcoming consoles could doom them to follow the Wii U's disappointing sales.

The Wii U, in its rush to be the "first" next-gen console, forgot to actually allocate some dollars to its marketing team. The console has suffered some pretty poor sales so far, which can be partly blamed on the fact that many consumers apparently don't even realize it's different from the Wii. Even Nintendo admitted that it didn't try hard enough. Activision head honcho Bobby "The Franchise" Kotik is worried that "uncertainties" about Microsoft and Sony's upcoming consoles may cause them to mimic Nintendo's sputter, rather than smash, into the next console generation.

"There are still many unknown factors such as pricing, launch dates and quantities, the level of first-party support and, importantly, consumer purchase intent in a world where consoles are no longer just competing with each other, but also with new platforms, such as smartphones and tablets," Kotick said during an Activision earning's call.

Sony did not reveal the pricing of its new console, or show people what it actually looks like, at its PS4 reveal event, and Microsoft has been extremely tight-lipped on its own effort, refusing to confirm or deny even the wildest of rumors. More information on the next-generation Xbox should arrive on May 21. Both consoles are reportedly due out sometime this holiday season.

"We continue to face the uncertainties of the console transition" Kotick said during the call. He noted that Nintendo's Wii U has had a "very slow" start. Activision currently relies on big-name multi-platform franchises such as Call of Duty for the majority of its profits. Kotik's warnings could be a sign that the company will look to next-gen with a 'wait-and-see' approach, while instead focusing on the current generation of consoles for a little while longer.

Source: BRG

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Hasn't Microsoft actually denied that always-online rumor?

Hey bobbie, the lack of fames is why the WiiU flopped rather than splashed. Make the games at a fair price and the players will come :-)

I would have thought that there's a combination of things that's going to lead to slow sales for the new consoles.

Firstly, there's the fact that there's very few killer apps for the new X-box, I don't really know about the PS4, but I'm trying to stick to what I know here. I suppose there's Call of Duty, but I've noticed that people in general aren't as stoked about Activision's latest cash grab. CoD fatigue is well and truly upon me.

Secondly, there's the price - the new consoles are rather expensive.

Finally, they're riddled with DRM and presumably over priced games with bits cut out of them only to be sold back as DLC. From what I've seen, there's a lot of folks getting sick of being well... ripped off left, right and centre.

Given how consoles are to be the cheaper and more convienient alternative to PCs, they've sacrificed a lot of that to please the money men. Furthermore, I'll bet you there's not going to be free mods like PC gamers get, either. It's almost enough to turn me back to PC gaming, I tell ya.

And on an unrelated note:

It's kind of difficult to read this article with Bobby Kotick's leering grin being aimed in my face. Seeing it almost made me bring up my breakfast. (I guess it's too early in the morning for me. :D )

SecondPrize:
Hasn't Microsoft actually denied that always-online rumor?

Not officially. The denial comes only from "insider sources" and one supposed e-mail that was sent around Microsoft. We can't be sure. If they do, it's pretty much suicide from the net backlash. But boy, I would love to see that.

OT: They might. They might not. Whether they do or don't is pretty much dependant on how they market themselves over the coming months and if the market for consoles still exists. Then again, people gotta play their GTA and COD somewhere and how on earth does a computer work?

Calumon: Magic in a box! :D

Gunner 51:
I would have thought that there's a combination of things that's going to lead to slow sales for the new consoles.

Firstly, there's the fact that there's very few killer apps for the new X-box, I don't really know about the PS4, but I'm trying to stick to what I know here. I suppose there's Call of Duty, but I've noticed that people in general aren't as stoked about Activision's latest cash grab. CoD fatigue is well and truly upon me.

Secondly, there's the price - the new consoles are rather expensive.

Finally, they're riddled with DRM and presumably over priced games with bits cut out of them only to be sold back as DLC. From what I've seen, there's a lot of folks getting sick of being well... ripped off left, right and centre.

Given how consoles are to be the cheaper and more convienient alternative to PCs, they've sacrificed a lot of that to please the money men. Furthermore, I'll bet you there's not going to be free mods like PC gamers get, either. It's almost enough to turn me back to PC gaming, I tell ya.

And on an unrelated note:

It's kind of difficult to read this article with Bobby Kotick's leering grin being aimed in my face. Seeing it almost made me bring up my breakfast. (I guess it's too early in the morning for me. :D )

Where is high prices quoted? PS4 is said to be cheaper as Sony can't afford another PS3, by using standard PC parts they've cut costs for themselves and the consumer. As for DRM if you mean always online, Sony is on record saying they dont hace always online requirement. Microsoft hasnt said anything so its speculation regarding them.

Consoles have always launched with a slow lineup. I'd suspect no company is given a good developer kit until less then a year before the console's launch. Some companies maybe only shortly thereof. We already know that the Wii U's support by Third Party Developers is slim at the moment, so it's only a matter of time before a fresh batch of games come out for the PS4/Xbox... whatever and then they will pick up momentum. The Wii was a freak of nature but reports say the average owner owned roughly 1.5 games. That could mean a lot never bought a game outside of Wii Sports.

If a few companies are quick on the draw, or perhaps developed their games with higher specs in anticipation, the 8th generation will have less of a bumpy start then predicted.

First thing that got me is Bobby Kotick not being portrayed as the devil anymore, made me chuckle because of that whole dating article.

But like others have said, every console (except maybe the Wii) have a slow start up, give them a few months and they'll be fine. Unless the Nextbox has always online, then it's dug a deep deep grave.

RicoADF:

Gunner 51:
I would have thought that there's a combination of things that's going to lead to slow sales for the new consoles.

Firstly, there's the fact that there's very few killer apps for the new X-box, I don't really know about the PS4, but I'm trying to stick to what I know here. I suppose there's Call of Duty, but I've noticed that people in general aren't as stoked about Activision's latest cash grab. CoD fatigue is well and truly upon me.

Secondly, there's the price - the new consoles are rather expensive.

Finally, they're riddled with DRM and presumably over priced games with bits cut out of them only to be sold back as DLC. From what I've seen, there's a lot of folks getting sick of being well... ripped off left, right and centre.

Given how consoles are to be the cheaper and more convienient alternative to PCs, they've sacrificed a lot of that to please the money men. Furthermore, I'll bet you there's not going to be free mods like PC gamers get, either. It's almost enough to turn me back to PC gaming, I tell ya.

And on an unrelated note:

It's kind of difficult to read this article with Bobby Kotick's leering grin being aimed in my face. Seeing it almost made me bring up my breakfast. (I guess it's too early in the morning for me. :D )

Where is high prices quoted? PS4 is said to be cheaper as Sony can't afford another PS3, by using standard PC parts they've cut costs for themselves and the consumer. As for DRM if you mean always online, Sony is on record saying they dont hace always online requirement. Microsoft hasnt said anything so its speculation regarding them.

The DRM I was referring to was not so much the "Always online" thing which rustled a lot of jimmies on the internet, but rather the "no second hand games" type.

As for the price of games, I can say in my defence that I don't know what the prices of a PS4's games will be - having never researched them. If I were to buy a console, I'd have stuck with the new X-box. (Though I cannot knock Sony - having enjoyed the PS1 and PS2 in the past.) But having heared that the new X Box's games will jump up by a whopping 10 (From 40 to 50) for a new game and when you take the "No second hand games" DRM, I have to say that gaming will become a lot more expensive for everyone.

(Source: http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/games/1296739/xbox-720-release-date-specs-news-and-rumours)

Yeah, this upcoming holiday has me worried. There doesn't seem to be anything in the PS4/Nextbox that will make people upgrade except for new game releases, many of which will also be on established platforms.

The move from 6th Gen to 7th saw HD visuals, true online infrastructure, large media storage (Blu-Ray, installed hard drives), or exciting new input methods (motion controls). From 7th to 8th Gen all we're seeing is more RAM and social connectivity, one of which is much more convenient on smartphones or tablets.

Plus, they'll likely cost more than many are willing to pay. The Wii U has a hard time selling at $300, and I can't see PS4/Nextbox being less than $400 without taking huge losses.

The selling point for PS4/Nextbox will have to be the hardware, which will only be understood by the gaming faithful, such as those that bought a Wii U at launch. I'd bet the PS4/Nextbox sell out and then take a nose dive just like the Wii U. If Sony and MS can keep consumer interest heightened they'll perform better but that looks like a huge investment for minor returns.

The PS4/Nextbox will have major hype this holiday, I have no doubt. But I don't see them maintaining that momentum into 2014. Their software lineup looks bare compared to their predecessors and even the Wii U, which is expected to have a competitive library covering all demographics. But the Wii U's performance depends on it stealing the thunder of the new console launches, which is impossible in the hardcore market and a long shot in the casual market.

I think, all things considered, we have a right to be worried.

Hey, Kotick said something reasonable.

I'm not really "worried" per se about the next console generation. I'm mainly a PC gamer and if the consoles have a bit of a rocky start, then it won't affect me.

There has been some discontent among the gaming pundits about the new console generation. Yahtzee has expressed his concerns in his usual eloquent way. Those with a stake in it should be concerned.

I have a feeling that the average consumer doesn't see any hole in their lives that could be filled by a $500 paperweight at the moment. So there will need to be a decent launch line-up to stop the new consoles seeming that way.

RicoADF:
Hey bobbie, the lack of fames is why the WiiU flopped rather than splashed. Make the games at a fair price and the players will come :-)

The WiiU had a strong launch lineup, despite peoples insistence to the contrary. People just have very short-term memory when it comes to console launches, which is why with every single one I get to read endless complaints from gamers about how there are "no games!"

The WiiU, of course, also had a very strong initial sales push, that died off after the first month. It didn't beat the Wii sales record, but people forget that the Wii did amazingly well. Maybe it was marketing, or perhaps the shabby financial times we live in, maybe it was a sign of the new market where tablets and smartphones are a factor and the PC is currently at its pinnacle, very likely a combination of them all.

*Thinks the PS4 will have a slow start*

Of course it will...? What other outcome could possibly happen? The PS3 had a slow start to, and the PS4 has more going against it then the PS3 ever did. What is really going to make the start agonizing is the fact that it's a new machine, not an upgrade. That's a harder pill to swallow, because that means after people play the few launch games they are interested in, the PS4 will literally become a doorstop, as it can't do anything else (no backwards compatibility). People won't be encouraged to keep it plugged in over their PS3 or 360; which will have much larger and more appealing libraries in comparison.

I also have to say, I put off getting a PS3 at launch but I admit I found the stuff they showed of it impressive. Nothing the PS4 has shown has been impressive to me. That's not the way to start a new generation... if you can't even get me excited, then what hope is there? I actually found the whole PS4 press conference condescending and backwards. Lets hope E3 shows something drastically different.

xPixelatedx:

*Thinks the PS4 will have a slow start*

Of course it will...? What other outcome could possibly happen? The PS3 had a slow start to, and the PS4 has more going against it then the PS3 ever did. What is really going to make the start agonizing is the fact that it's a new machine, not an upgrade. That's a harder pill to swallow, because that means after people play the few launch games they are interested in, the PS4 will literally become a doorstop, as it can't do anything else (no backwards compatibility). People won't be encouraged to keep it plugged in over their PS3 or 360; which will have much larger and more appealing libraries in comparison.

I also have to say, I put off getting a PS3 at launch but I admit I found the stuff they showed of it impressive. Nothing the PS4 has shown has been impressive to me. That's not the way to start a new generation... if you can't even get me excited, then what hope is there? I actually found the whole PS4 press conference condescending and backwards. Lets hope E3 shows something drastically different.

This.

Back in the start of this gen it was "Games! Games! 599$ dollars! More games! This giant enemy crab!"

Now?

Netflix! Social! Facebook! sharing!

I think this gen missed the point of a console entirely and tries to be a stationary tablet.

SecondPrize:
Hasn't Microsoft actually denied that always-online rumor?

They are probably just waiting for the announcement to say it officially.
Then everyone will confuse their relief for bliss and renewed brand loyalty.
We will witness the dawn of a new type of marketing psychology and not even know it

IronMit:

SecondPrize:
Hasn't Microsoft actually denied that always-online rumor?

They are probably just waiting for the announcement to say it officially.
Then everyone will confuse their relief for bliss and renewed brand loyalty.
We will witness the dawn of a new type of marketing psychology and not even know it

I'm often all the way wrong but I was pretty sure they officially laid the rumors to rest a month or six weeks ago. I recall seeing it happen and then weeks later Sony announced they wouldn't have always online and I felt like patting Sony on the head and giving them a sticker because their timing was poor.

Huh. Kotick's right for once.

The continuing poor economy combined with increasing prices, decreasing product quality, a focus on entertainment and social media rather than game development, and a general distrust of the market are going to hurt this generation quite a lot.

The new consoles offer *nothing* that the old ones didn't already offer at a lower price point and with more games to back them up. Hell, the PS4's "exclusives" (the titles meant to sell the new console) are all going to be available on PS3.

Kotick makes reasonable statement... That's gotta be a sign of an impending apocalypse right?

Of course the next gen consoles will have a slow start, no developer is going to risk a really (unnecessarily so) expensive AAA product on platforms with no set player base, and savvy consumers will wait till there is a decent collection of titles before picking the machine up... I remember diving in too quick for a DS, and all I got to play on the damn thing was a demo for Metroid and a crap sega racing game, with a few GBA games.

The manufacturers also dont do themselves any favours either, PS 3 launch in the EU was a slap to consumers after the US launch... EU paid much more for a lesser version of the console (didnt have PS 2 component, the EU had to settle for a software emulated version, but paid more for the console than the US did).
Theres also the issue of the launch console is often buggy, the OS is often a mess and early adopters are often left with a inferior version of the console... each of the consoles have multiple versions come out, some superior rarely inferior (the original PS3 with its large HDD was actually nicer than the new slim one with a tiny HDD).

... so why should consumers rush to buy a new console?
There wont be games to play on it, the platform will have issues that will require fixing before its stable, the form factor will be improved in later iterations of the machine, and the price will drop... or 2nd hand machines will start to appear on the market.

What Bobby is saying is akin to remarking that people will need money to buy things, well duh captain obvious.

CriticKitten:
Huh. Kotick's right for once.

The continuing poor economy combined with increasing prices, decreasing product quality, a focus on entertainment and social media rather than game development, and a general distrust of the market are going to hurt this generation quite a lot.

The new consoles offer *nothing* that the old ones didn't already offer at a lower price point and with more games to back them up. Hell, the PS4's "exclusives" (the titles meant to sell the new console) are all going to be available on PS3.

Pretty much; the Nextbox and PS4 are more than likely going to have a sluggish start due to lack of any real leap in tech as well as pricing issues. I know Sony SAYS they're not going to pull another $599 fiasco, but they're also not planning on selling those things for a loss. My guess is that the Nextbox and PS4 start off slowly...just as the Wii U is getting a bunch of exclusive system-sellers like Mario. Then what will the excuses of 3rd parties be?

The thing that is hurting the WiiU is the naming convention and the major audience that bought the original Wii. That and the fact the Wii U is still using IBMs powerPC architecture. Then again, the original Wii and Gamecube both ran off PowerPC architecture and PowerPC isn't nearly the nightmare Cell architecture is to develop for.

I agree with them, they might. Still, I don't think it will be slow on the scale of the Wii U, the slowpoke of this generation. The PS4 may do pretty well overall, but just kind of slow to start. I dunno, I'm not an expert on this but that's just how I see it.

New console need either a library of couple hundreds of games or full backwards compatibility to sell well.

people seem to miss the fact that the reazson the PS3 launched so high was becuase it also had a PS2 inside it for backwards compat.

since they are not putting a ps3 inside the ps4 it should be ~400-500USD, which is reasonable if you account for the USD's devualtion over the last 7-8 years (which cannot be denied, i mean the AUSD is stronger which was unthinkable)

Gunner 51:
I would have thought that there's a combination of things that's going to lead to slow sales for the new consoles.

Firstly, there's the fact that there's very few killer apps for the new X-box, I don't really know about the PS4, but I'm trying to stick to what I know here. I suppose there's Call of Duty, but I've noticed that people in general aren't as stoked about Activision's latest cash grab. CoD fatigue is well and truly upon me.

Secondly, there's the price - the new consoles are rather expensive.

Finally, they're riddled with DRM and presumably over priced games with bits cut out of them only to be sold back as DLC. From what I've seen, there's a lot of folks getting sick of being well... ripped off left, right and centre.

You do realize that almost nothing you've said here is based on actual facts right? Let's break it down point by point:

Few killer apps for the next Xbox? It hasn't even been officially announced so we don't have any way of knowing what is specifically in development yet.

The new consoles are expensive? No prices have been announced for the new Xbox or the PS4 so this is based on absolutely no facts.

Riddled with DRM? What DRM? The PS4 has been confirmed to not require a constant online connection and if I'm not mistaken Microsoft has denied that the new Xbox will be always online. But even if they haven't denied it, it hasn't been confirmed either so this assumption would still be mere speculation at best. There's also no confirmation of game prices so again we have something you made up.

Now scrolling down a bit and seeing your next post, you mention the DRM you were talking about is the no second hand games type of DRM. Something which hasn't even been rumored to be in the next Xbox, and which we know isn't in the PS4.

My point being, how about you stick to discussing facts about new consoles instead of a combination of rumours and stuff you just made up? None of the points you made are at all relevant since none of them are based on actual facts. In fact, it's worse than your points simply being irrelevant. Attempting to pass off rumours as 100% confirmed fact could even simply confuse people who don't follow the new console news that closely into making decisions about them based on utter bull and continuing to pass along that information as fact.

oliver.begg:
people seem to miss the fact that the reazson the PS3 launched so high was becuase it also had a PS2 inside it for backwards compat.

since they are not putting a ps3 inside the ps4 it should be ~400-500USD, which is reasonable if you account for the USD's devualtion over the last 7-8 years (which cannot be denied, i mean the AUSD is stronger which was unthinkable)

That's bullshit. True, they cut out the PS2 processor in a desperate attempt to control their manufacturing costs early on, but do you know how much it cost to stick the PS2 chipset in there? About $20 were the estimates experts were coming up with. An extra $20 chipset did not make the PS3 cost $600. You can chalk that up to sticking a Blu-Ray drive in there and spending years and millions of dollars in R&D on the Cell processor. The Blu-Ray drive alone would have been a huge part of the cost when you stop and realize that at the time, comparable Blu-Ray players were selling for double the price of a PS3.

The PS4 will probably be cheaper than the PS3, not only because they won't be putting the PS3 chipset inside, but because Blu-Ray drives are cheap and they didn't spend ungodly amounts of money developing the CPU themselves this time.

SecondPrize:
Hasn't Microsoft actually denied that always-online rumor?

If memory serves me correctly, it was SONY that officially said PS4 wont be always online (thus winning the utter escapist support it seems), No official word from MS yet.

Strazdas:

SecondPrize:
Hasn't Microsoft actually denied that always-online rumor?

If memory serves me correctly, it was SONY that officially said PS4 wont be always online (thus winning the utter escapist support it seems), No official word from MS yet.

I don't care for either consoles. I do my gaming on a TI-85 Graphics Calculator

Steven Bogos:

Strazdas:

SecondPrize:
Hasn't Microsoft actually denied that always-online rumor?

If memory serves me correctly, it was SONY that officially said PS4 wont be always online (thus winning the utter escapist support it seems), No official word from MS yet.

I don't care for either consoles. I do my gaming on a TI-85 Graphics Calculator

And you are quoting me saying this because?

Strazdas:

SecondPrize:
Hasn't Microsoft actually denied that always-online rumor?

If memory serves me correctly, it was SONY that officially said PS4 wont be always online (thus winning the utter escapist support it seems), No official word from MS yet.

There was an email from MS on kotaku. But then with the internet, who knows what is real or fake. But MS wont make it always online apart from the tv watching part. It would be the death of xbox being that the machine isnt ready for digital downloading like the PC. Look at the puny little hard drives on consoles. :-)

To be honest, i wonder if MS are just letting these rumours build and piss gamers off. An then to a fanfare on May 21st they will state "Not always online to game" "can play 2nd hand games" "No DRM also" and the fans will go mental with joy. An thus a ton of free positive publicity has been created.

SonOfVoorhees:

Strazdas:

SecondPrize:
Hasn't Microsoft actually denied that always-online rumor?

If memory serves me correctly, it was SONY that officially said PS4 wont be always online (thus winning the utter escapist support it seems), No official word from MS yet.

There was an email from MS on kotaku. But then with the internet, who knows what is real or fake. But MS wont make it always online apart from the tv watching part. It would be the death of xbox being that the machine isnt ready for digital downloading like the PC. Look at the puny little hard drives on consoles. :-)

To be honest, i wonder if MS are just letting these rumours build and piss gamers off. An then to a fanfare on May 21st they will state "Not always online to game" "can play 2nd hand games" "No DRM also" and the fans will go mental with joy. An thus a ton of free positive publicity has been created.

A mail from MS is not an "official announcement" though. and without that we really can claim either way.
I do agree that hard drives on consoles and haldhelds is a joke. i mean this is 2013 and you still get phones with no internal memory (or 256mb one) and you want hard drives on a console.... so yeah. I was actually laughed at at phone shop when i said i want at least 4 gb internal memory and told they dont exist..... you cant put anything decent into less nowadays anyway. heck excel files i work with takes over 100mb.

As for the buildup - could very well be. and its working. i mean, look at PS4. people are going to buy it "Because no always online". they are selling consoles for not including DRM. you know, something that should be a default state to begin with. so it coudl very well be a nice marketing campaign.

WiiU has no good games, i personally dont like Nintendo games anyway. But it sells on Metroid, Mario and Zelda and those games are never launch titles. Plus, apart from those main titles, there are many games not being made for it eg Watchdogs. I think they tried a copycat the Wii fame but i guess lightening doesnt strike twice.

PS4 i fear, from what im hearing, may charge to much again and stall. The PS3 sold well when the price went down, but at the start it was to costly. An they have money problems, and did say this is the first time SOny was in profit in 5 years. Except most of that was laying off staff, closing companies and selling property.

Nextbox i think will do well if they show amazing games and the rumours around it are not true. Also it has to be at a good price point, around 300 would be fine. This goes for PS4 as well, 300 and great games shown at E3.

I think launch dates, well apart from PS2, will be slow. I think the hardcore fans will buy it day one. Every one else will still enjoy there PS3/360 games for maybe 6 months to a year and buy next gen then when there is a more built up library of games. If you look at the PS3, really slow start, but once they were realistic with the price of the hardware and the amazing games started to be released/previewed that machine sold loads.

CriticKitten:
Huh. Kotick's right for once.

The continuing poor economy combined with increasing prices, decreasing product quality, a focus on entertainment and social media rather than game development, and a general distrust of the market are going to hurt this generation quite a lot.

The new consoles offer *nothing* that the old ones didn't already offer at a lower price point and with more games to back them up. Hell, the PS4's "exclusives" (the titles meant to sell the new console) are all going to be available on PS3.

Actually what MS did was try to shift blame. The "Always Online" is a FEATURE that the developers can choose to use (So your games don't necesarily need to be calling home constantly, but probably will anditsalltheirfaultswejustgavethemthetech!). But basically yeah, the Console itself is looking for the internet. Otherwise how would all of your wonderful social media work?

Idiots!

Well, if the PS3/360 launches are any indication of how the prices on the new consoles are going to be it's going to be a few years till I pick one up - just as good ol' bobbie is worried about.

Like one of the earlier posters said, I can't see them being sold for less than $400, and at that price I'll just stick with the current gen and pick up their games, I haven't played, as their prices inevitably drop. Sure I'll be envious of the new shinny graphics, but meh.

It's too bad the hardware on the current gen can't just be upgraded, *grumbles about why he prefers computers*, because it would make so much more sense to sell a $100-150 thing you can plug into your current gen console to beef it up...daydreams of the Sega 32x & n64 expansion pak. I know those weren't huge upgrades, but still seems like a missed opportunity for these companies as they wring-their-hands over whether someone like me is going to buy a new console.

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