How's this for tough love? Activision CEO Bobby Kotick believes lagging game sales are partly the result of "a stream of products that are less than adequate from some of our competitors". Naming no names, obviously.
The comments came following Activision's earnings report for the quarter ending 30th June. Here are some takeaways, for context: World of Warcraft subscriptions are down by roughly one million to 9.1 million, but Call of Duty: Elite continues to pick up pace, passing 12 million (Premium and non-paying) users. Total revenue is $1.08 billion, exceeding expectations but a few thousand down on the $1.15 billion Activision hauled in the same period last year. Profits stand at $185 million, a 45 per cent drop-off. The company has raised its revenue forecast for 2012 from $4.2 to $4.3 billion.
It's a mixed but generally positive result, then. "You have a very difficult macroeconomic environment, when you look at the things that can generally have an impact on the consumption of entertainment," Kotick told an analyst (via GI) later. "Unemployment data is very concerning, and when you look at the challenges in Europe there are a lot of things that are going to affect the macroeconomic outlook. We are also at the late end of the cycle, and the late end of a console cycle is always going to have its share of difficulties."
However, the boxed videogame market's well-publicised slump isn't purely a cyclical thing. "I also think you've had, unfortunately, a stream of products that are less than adequate from some of our competitors," Kotick went on.
"The demand in the marketplace is for great quality products. If you look at the success we're having it validates that there is an opportunity for great quality products but I think at this stage in the cycle, it's challenging for anything other than great quality products."
"There's also a lot of competition for entertainment dollars - you look at mobile games and what's happening there and the pricing there that's having an impact," he continued.
"And I also think that a lot of the games we make, like Call of Duty, that are multiplayer games offer a lot of replayability, and when you have the opportunity for replayabiity in an economic environment like this, you're going to spend more time playing the games that you have.
"But I will say that if you look out at the next five years, there's a lot of reason to be hopeful and enthusiastic, but the next few years are going to be challenging."