Activision boss Bobby Kotick says that without a PS3 price cut to boost the system, the world's largest publisher just might have to cut support for Sony's console entirely.
Okay. Let's be fair, here: Bobby Kotick is the head of the largest videogame publisher in the world. That may give him free rein to occasionally say things that most other people wouldn't get away with. But while Kotick is certainly no stranger to stirring up a bit of controversy every now and then, this is the first thing he's said in a very long time that made me literally stare at my monitor, dumbfounded.
Speaking with the Times, Kotick expressed concerns for how Sony's PS3 was faring in this generation's console war - not only its place in the market, but also how expensive it could be to develop for. "I'm getting concerned about Sony; the PlayStation 3 is losing a bit of momentum and they don't make it easy for me to support the platform. It's expensive to develop for the console, and the Wii and the Xbox are just selling better. Games generate a better return on invested capital on the Xbox than on the PlayStation," said Kotick.
That, though, isn't so surprising. I mean, Kotick is a businessman first and foremost with the financial interests of his company at heart, and he wouldn't be the first industry figure to say something like that. Then, he dropped the bombshell:
"They have to cut the price, because if they don't, the attach rates are likely to slow. If we are being realistic, we might have to stop supporting Sony." This isn't a long-term plan, either - it could be as soon as next year. "When we look at 2010 and 2011, we might want to consider if we support the console - and the PSP too."
Let's give him the benefit of the doubt for a moment: Assuming that what he says is true, and Wii/Xbox games do indeed generate a much better return on investment than PS3 ones, cutting support for the console would be a fairly sound business decision. But I still can't help but feel absolutely flabbergasted. Not only would something like that seem to completely fly in the face of the trend this generation to move away from exclusives, but to publicly say something like that is ... well, that takes a special kind of audacity.
As of late, Sony has been quick to boast of a bevy of upcoming first-and-third-party exclusives, and the console does seem to be catching its stride. Even so, losing the world's largest publisher (and consequently huge brands like Guitar Hero and Call of Duty) would be one hell of a deathblow.
Update: A pair of responses. First, outspoken analyst Michael Pachter (seriously, that dude's everywhere) called Kotick's statement "a bluff," but one that makes sense since obviously, it is in Activision's best interest to see the PS3 reach as much market penetration as it can. Pachter also predicted that Sony's response would be something along the lines of their response to his own claim that the PSP Go was a ripoff: "I think they'll say to Bobby, 'You hurt our feelings.' And Bobby will say, 'Who cares?'"
Then, Sony actually did respond, but it was much less interesting than Pachter had predicted: "We respect our third-parties' opinions and their right to express those opinions but we will not be commenting on this story."
Lame, Sony. And here I was looking for you guys to throw the gauntlet. I'm disappointed in you, because this is much less entertaining.