It would appear that Bobby Kotic’s wallet has gotten too full as of late. In a recent announcement, Activision has revealed that they are spending $500 million on Bungie Studios next game, Destiny, for development and promotion.
This being Activision, the amount of money being spent here seems less extreme. Taking a logical look at the situation suggests that this move is less of a risk than initially appears. For one, Bungie isn’t a new studio. They have over a decade of experience behind them and as such know what they are doing. Activision’s relationship with the studio is as classic as it comes. Activision provides the money and publishes the game and Bungie are left to their own devices to makes said game, and so Activision clearly trusts Bungie enough to invest so much in them.
Second is that it would seem Activision are really wanting to push Destiny to succeed. With the history that comes with a studio like Bungie behind it and the budget for promoting the game, Activision seem to be aiming to create another multimillion dollar franchise to add to the collection. The Call of Duty and Skylander series are Activision’s current big earners and are both running their courses, making it understandable to add some new blood to the line-up. Call of Duty saw reduced sales with the latest instalment when compared to last year’s release suggesting that people are finally catching on to the fact that the series has been lacking serious innovation for the past few years. Skylanders is destined to suffer the issue the Guitar Hero series suffered before it, in that you can only sell so much plastic add-ons to the customer before they run out of interest and room.
So what is the biggest problem with Kotic’s master plan? The logic suggest that Activision is hoping for a greater return on its investment in both the short term, with the release of Destiny and the long term with any future Destiny related titles and DLC, yet it is plain to see that the amount of copies of Destiny that need to be sold in order to break even, is ludicrous. Yes the game is being published for both current and last generation consoles, but missing from the roster is the PC market, which seems odd given Activision being a multi-platform publisher and wanting to make a profit from the franchise. What makes this laughable is when journalists ask Bungie about the possibility of a PC port, they dance around the question like a group of Morris men. Bungie has a history of not developing for PC, the last game published on that platform being Halo 2 which was marked for damnation being tied to games for Windows Live and the requirement of running on Windows Vista. We can probably blame Microsoft for that move but ever since then the PC hasn’t seen a new Halo game and probably never will give Microsoft’s wanting to keep it exclusive to the Xbox. The only reason Bungie have given on the subject is that they feel they have their hands full on the current platforms they are working on and as such wish to focus on providing a better game for those platforms rather than spreading themselves too thin.
The real question then is will Activision’s all in pay off? I have no doubt that Destiny will sell well, whilst I am now primarily a PC gamer, I still have the up most respect for Bungie. The Halo series was my main reason for buying an Xbox 360, the universe they created there is still memorable for me and I did enjoy my time with the games. With that I do believe that they will be able to create another great story with what they are working on now, my doubts lie with the gameplay and whether it will do the story justice. From what we’ve seen so far there has been nothing that really excites me, I get a Borderlands vibe from it and given the sour taste Borderlands 2 left me with I sincerely hope it doesn’t end up like that. Hopefully E3 will put my concerns to rest and given the size of this venture I suspect that both the PS4 and Xbox One will be wanting Destiny to succeed as well as Activision does making this a reason to actually own one of the new consoles.