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Blizzard-Activision Merger Official 200

The Washington Post's Mike Musgrove is reporting that the Blizzard-Activision merger is official as of yesterday afternoon. "One analyst has predicted that the merged company would make $1.38 billion in profits during its first financial year, enough to make Activision Blizzard the world's largest game publisher. [...] But this merger should give the newly-formed company enough heft to compete with EA for such blockbuster projects, said Pachter. 'It's good to have a duopoly instead of a monopoly,' he said. 'This just makes the industry that much more interesting.'"
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Blizzard-Activision Merger Official

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  • Oh boy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DurendalMac ( 736637 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:16AM (#24118161)
    I sure hope Activision isn't stupid enough to mess around with the way Blizzard does things. Disney may be full of twats, but at least they knew better than to screw with Pixar after buying them. Let's hope that Activision has the same sense.
  • Profits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:22AM (#24118265) Journal

    Doesn't Blizzard bring in more than a billion in profits a year, by itself? What's Activision bringing to the table?

  • Re:Holy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:31AM (#24118409) Homepage Journal

    "Think about what ads in web-search did for Google."
    Shame that is a radically different market. I mean really, while your shooting at Diablo are you going to stop and click on an Add to 'Al's Archery supply'

    With Google, people are in the mindset that they will be looking at web pages already.

  • Re:Holy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:33AM (#24118427) Homepage Journal

    Yes, but that is said about most mergers, and it's never true.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:35AM (#24118493)
    You are going to have to do some serious convincing that they release good products when Blizzard hired Tom Chilton (the man whom single handedly brought down several large name MMORPGs before WoW) and then WoW became the worst Arena based third person melee subscription game ever that only rouges and warriors can play. PvE players and all the other classes in the game need not apply to World of Arenacraft.
  • Re:Holy... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:58AM (#24118839)
    I can just see the Jack Thompson types having a heart attack over that. Not only can you shoot cops, steal cars and pay for sex in game now you can get direct links to where you can do those things in real life. Like the 9mm you're using in game, here's where you can buy one just like it.
  • Re:Holy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cookie3 ( 82257 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:59AM (#24118849) Homepage

    Question: "How does this impact D3?" Answer: "It doesn't."
    Ditto for WoW and Starcraft.

    Blizzard Entertainment is retaining all of its own staff; no one's going anywhere.

    The actual merger is more akin to "Vivendi-Activision", but Vivendi doesn't have as strong a brand as Blizzard, so they slapped Blizzard's name on it instead.

  • Spin machine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Brain-Fu ( 1274756 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:03PM (#24118903) Homepage Journal

    They made it sound like merging these two companies is somehow increasing the number of competitors in the market.

    Previously, there were three big companies, EA, Activision, and Blizzard.* They were all competitors. Now, there are only two: EA and Activision-Blizzard. That does not benefit consumers. The already-existing cartel has just shrunk, moving even closer to a monopoly.

    The benefits of capitalism (low prices, high quality, variety of choice, available jobs, economic health, etc...) all come to fruition in free markets with lots of competitors. When you have largely controlled markets (high barriers to entry) with very few competitors, you lose those benefits. This is Econ-101 stuff.

    Whenever these mergers happen they always try to sell up the benefits to customers "by centralizing our efforts we can cut our own production costs greatly, which means we can provide better quality and even bigger savings on to our clients." While that is true in theory, in practice the lack of competition means there is nothing forcing them to provide these benefits, and so over time they don't provide them...and instead maximize their own profits by cutting corners on quality and price gouging. Merging eliminates the balancing factors in the market, which is what allows them to get away with this.

    So that is what will happen. And it is nothing new. "All this has happened before. All this will happen again." --Pythia

    *Yes, I am aware that there are actually other companies in the games industry at the moment...I was just filtering the set to those mentioned in the summary for the sake of simplicity. The principle still applies.

  • Re:Oh boy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:10PM (#24119027)

    Yeah, because Slashdot is all about the commenters, not about the comments.

  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:20PM (#24119195)

    The "games of yore" mindset is just another "back in my day" phenomenon. The kids who grew up gaming are getting older now. It's just a sad fact of reality that the when I think about all the awesome games I played as a kid, I'm looking at them through rose-colored glasses. Most, truth be told, had simplistic gameplay that I wouldn't enjoy now. That "magic" that the old games had was essentially that a lot of us were kids who were easily entertained. A little guy to move around on screen and some flashing lights and we were happy. I mean honestly, RC Pro Am or Contra aren't much more than twitchy little diversions.

    These days, game companies are still coming out with tons of those types of boring, meaningless games. The kids now are eating them up, and we look at them with disdain saying "If only they had some REAL games like WE had when we were kids . . . uphill in the snow both ways yadda yadda". Don't get me wrong, I'm still an avid gamer, but I'm just much more selective now that I used to be. In generally I'll play through half a dozen games per year, but they're not the mindless little diversions that I once enjoyed. Now, it takes a very detailed game with an intricate story to wrap me in. Last full game I played through was Mass Effect. Currently I'm in the beginning stages of Assassin's Creed (which is decent so far).

    So yeah, the games haven't gotten lower in quality as time has weathered on - it's just that our demands for them have gone up as we've gotten older.

  • The Reason Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kenp2002 ( 545495 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:30PM (#24119389) Homepage Journal

    First stop thinking about EA\Activision\etc as game companies. They are at the core Interactive Entertainment companies.

    Just as Marvel is no longer a comic book publisher, they deal in intellectual property. Their product is the world and characters they create and the various outlets are the tools (comics, movies, games, etc.)

    With that in mind Activision and EA are looking at entertainment resources. The reason for the mergers is to pool capital for large projects that are internal and self directed.

    Case in point, how many good video game movies are there?

    Ok with that answer in mind: How many of them were produced by the game company?

    Ahh we are starting to see the motivation here.

    Blizzard alone, despite being a large high quality producer of games doesn't have all the tools they need to push things to the next level. The inverse is also true Activision doesn't have the tools that Blizzard has.

    We all know there is a Warcraft movie in the works. The more money that Blizzard can front in the production, the more control. If they could fund the movie completely, they have complete control.

    This is what motivated Marvel to start doing their own movies. Look at Marvel based movies before they spun their own studio (Hulk, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Electra, etc.) and look at the post results in Iron Man.

    By combining resources they are given themselves better leverage for a complete Entertainment company with better cross platform capitalization of their intellectual properties.

    ActivisionBlizzard can do more with existing IPs then Blizzard alone can. Remeber, business is just as much about networking personally then just the logistics of business-as-usual. Activision brings a lot of "Who to call for XYZ" and "So-and-So over at Paramount owes me a favor".

    The same goes the opposite way, Activision can now dip into the substantial talent pool that Blizzard has, their biggest asset is their art department. Think of all the artists who can now branch out and do work for other IPs not getting burned out drawing their 400th Orc or 200th Zerg. Retaining talent isn't jsut about good benefits, but giving them something to do that keeps them energized.

    The key is ensuring good management, keeping the creative forces insulated against the business lines, and ensuring that creativity and profitability co-exist as peacefully as possible. That takes strong leadership to say yes and no when needed.

    That being said I would love to see some new use of the WoW IP, how about a racing game in the theme of Rally car racing through Azeroth and Outland. How about some FPS in the land of Starcraft. How about a few anime series based on Starcraft, Diablo, and Warcraft?

    Maintain quality, respect the IP, keep focused and keep costs in control.

  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:38PM (#24119497)

    It's a Wall-E world. I think these business execs have taken Highlander a bit too seriously, buying and merging companies because in the end, there can be only one. So will it be Wal-Mart or Buy-n-Large?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:58PM (#24119841)

    Fallout 1 & 2, Planescape: Torment, Descent: Freespace, System Shock 2, Star Wars; Rogue Squadron, The Oregon Trail, ...

    I don't expect games of this caliber anytime soon.

    I've played all of them, except the last, in the last month and they are still as good. The only problem is my OS can't actually run them stably.

  • by Xtravar ( 725372 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:59PM (#24119877) Homepage Journal

    On the other hand, Maxis is now "just" one of EA's brands, and they've always done stuff that interested me.

    Maxis used to have a diversified game portfolio (albeit they were just the publishers of some). I think of Klik & Play, Widget Workshop, SimTower, SimAnt, SimFarm, SimIsle... Those were really fun games. I would kill for a modern remake of SimFarm!

    Once EA bought them, they were pretty much forced to focus on SimCity and The Sims franchises. The SimCity franchise is dead at this point (another dev shop made SimCity Societies, which isn't even the spiritual heir to SimCity 4).

  • Re:Holy... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sheafification ( 1205046 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @01:05PM (#24119959)

    Yeah, but Blizzard has been owned by Vivendi for a long long time now without being messed with. I remember when Blizzard was acquired by Vivendi; people had the same worries. Just like Blizzard is famous for only releasing "when it's done", I trust they're willing to tell their higher-ups, "Trust us, we know what we're doing."

    Activision would have to be insane to fiddle with Blizzard, given that Blizzard rakes in millions a year, and could probably have a best selling game based on their name alone.

  • Re:Holy... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @01:53PM (#24120649) Journal

    People would have to be very clever to put ads in this place without detracting from the game experience.

    That's nearly impossible. Almost every ad in every game I've played has detracted from the game experience. The only exceptions I can think of are advertisements where they would be in real life, and on similar subjects as in real life: Billboards for fast food restaurants in cities (in realistic concentrations), ads for performance car parts on the barriers on race tracks, ads for sports drinks and sportswear on the sides of playing fields, etc. Having a Cingular logo permanently stuck to my HUD while I'm driving along (not kidding, see any driving screenshot from the PC version of NFSU2) is only going to make me hate Cingular, the company that made the game, and the horse they rode in on. Sticking any ads anywhere in a game that occurs in the past or a fantasy world is going to piss me off BADLY, no exceptions.

  • by grahamd0 ( 1129971 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @02:04PM (#24120827)

    In 5-8 year BLizzard will lose there rep of releasing fnished high quality games. You'll see.

    Wtf are you talking about? Activision has been publishing id's games for YEARS and they're still released "when they're done". (I know they aren't "GOOD", but that's not he point).

    Activision didn't buy the golden goose so they have it for dinner.

  • Re:Oh boy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @02:14PM (#24121057) Homepage

    In fact, I'm downloading a demo of Blactivision's newest title

    Sounds like the game company from a Dave Chappelle skit.

  • Re:Spin machine (Score:3, Insightful)

    by negRo_slim ( 636783 ) <> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:41PM (#24122711) Homepage

    They have a total of three game franchises: Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft line. That's it. That's hardly a lot compared to EA or Activision who each have gazillions of franchises.

    Quality before quantity my friend.

  • In 5-8 year BLizzard will lose there rep of releasing fnished high quality games. You'll see.

    I rather doubt this. Blizzard is, for all intents and purposes, a bunch of assholes, and I mean this in a good way. I'm guessing if too much pressure is put on them to bow to some corporate line, they will all just leave. I don't think that Chris Metzen is much for outside influence, or compromise, he'd probably quit (and take most of the design team with him) if anyone tried to mess with his freedom. As would most of the people there.

    For some odd reason I don't think that Bliz is a bunch of good capitalists, I think that they really view themselves as artists, and industry rockstars. Not saying they don't like their money, but I think there are some deeper motivations going on as well.

    I also doubt that anyone will really mess with this Goose, Bliz is WAY to lucrative to fiddle with. Nothing they have released since the mid 90's, hasn't made money. Two of their games still sell more than some other releases over ten years later (Diablo 2, and Starcraft), which is pretty rare in the game industry.

    Yes, I am a Bliz fanboy. :)

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"