In a new interview with Portfolio.com, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick talks about his company's merger with Vivendi, his plans for the future and how Electronic Arts takes the souls of the studios it acquires.
Confirming that interest in Blizzard's World of Warcraft MMOG was the impetus behind Activision's entry into the Vivendi deal, Kotick said, "We started hearing rumors of how profitable that was. My guys kept telling me about the business, and I didn't believe it. But we realized that this is not just a game. It's a social network with a lot of elements, and people rely on the game for a lot more than just entertainment. It wasn't the kind of thing that something else would come along and displace."
The Vivendi merger also comes up in conjunction with Activision's hit Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock. The deal will give the company open access to the Universal Music Group library, owned by Vivendi, which Kotick referred to as a "big benefit." "Guitar Hero takes an artist to a whole different place in the popular culture right now," he said. "Downloads on iTunes take off. The artist's relevance and importance to 17-year-olds change in a way that you could never get in any other medium."
"The age appeal is something we've never seen before," he continued. "Seven-year-olds who have no idea who Aerosmith is are playing the band's music on Guitar Hero. So are 45-year-olds who spent a good portion of their lives following the band around." He also promised the game would expand to include other instruments, saying, "It's not just about guitars," as well as the inclusion of local bands and content to help the game grow internationally.
Discussing Activision's growth into one of the industry's dominant behemoths, Kotick said, "It's really about being considerate of the culture in the game studios that Activision buys. That's the biggest difference between us and any of our competitors. We built a model that celebrates entrepreneurial, opportunistic, independent values. It's almost the opposite of Electronic Arts, which has commoditized development. It did a very good job of taking the soul out of a lot of the studios it acquired."
Portfolio.com's full interview with Activision CEO Bobby Kotick is available here.