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Activision Hate Understandable, But Unfair, Says Social Media Guru

| 27 Apr 2011 14:05
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According to Activision's Dan Amrich, the publisher's size makes it a natural target.

Dan Amrich, a former videogame journalist and Activision's go-to guy for all things to do with social media, says that he can understand why the publisher has such a poor relation with gamers, but he doesn't think that Activision has really earned all the bad press it receives.

Amrich thought that the seeds of the negative feelings against Activision were sown during the merger between Vivendi and Activision, a deal which turned Activision into the largest third-party publisher in the world. He said that being very large and very successful - which as loathe as gamers might be to admit it, Activision most certainly is - made you a natural target. This went hand in hand with his view that gamers were inclined to support the little guy, something that Activision was anything but.

"It comes with the territory," he said. "In gaming, we are all trained from birth to root for the underdog ... We root for him because the odds are so incredibly against him ... We root for him because he is insignificant, because there is no way he will succeed unless we believe he will succeed. He's the underdog. Activision is a multi-billion dollar corporation with a string of hit franchises, global success, and market leadership. That does not sound anything like an underdog to me."

He also touched on the negative feelings towards Activision's oft-quoted CEO, Bobby Kotick. He said that there was a great deal of incorrect information surrounding Kotick, and that he was often misrepresented, both unintentionally and wilfully. He said it was natural for people to focus on the man at the top, but said that over time, people like Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing and one of the people responsible for creating Kevin Butler for Sony, would start to make much more of an impact with gamers. He was hopeful that fresh voices would help change the conversations that people were having about Activision, and said that better and more honest communication was the key to turning Activision's image around.

Unfortunately, the difficulty with better communication, he said, was getting gamers to listen and not reject Activision's efforts with a "knee-jerk" reaction. "Activision could be giving orphan kids prosthetic limbs," he said. "And you'd still have haters who say they're building a cybernetic army for their own nefarious purposes. Some people are going to hate because hating is more fun."

Amrich does make a good case: It is very easy to think of Activision as an evil empire, and Kotick as some fiendish despot, just because of the publisher's size and success. However, there are issues that he doesn't really touch on, such as worries that the PC and PS3 versions of Call of Duty: Black Ops played second fiddle to the Xbox 360 version, or Activision's relationships with its own studios, that are also cause for concern. Amrich's belief that a wider conversation will help get gamers on board is entirely valid, but "honest" really has to mean honest.

Source: Games Radar

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