Tuesday, September 28, 2010

EA And Activision: Two Jealous Heads Of The Same Monster

I was stumbling through the Internet recently and came across the latest little spat between Activision and Electronic Arts. Their little back and forth is sad considering they are the two biggest publishers in electronic media. The paths both have taken to this point in history have been quite parallel, with both growing from small independent roots that evolved into ridiculously large publishers who buy up small developers and assimilate them much like The Borg from Star Trek. Many at one point considered EA evil because of it's practice of absorbing independent developers and immediately changing there name to EA(insert location here). They attempted to do this with Take Two Interactive last year, but the parent company of 2kgames and Rockstar rejected every buyout offer. Had it gone through, that merger would have been disastrous for gamers looking for variety in their collection. Activision isn't much better than EA is, however. Activision's acquisition of Blizzard was the only thing to come close to the EA Take Two deal. The only difference is, Activision won out, and got their hands on the creators of WOW and Starcraft. After RedOctane and Harmonix created the wildly popular Guitar Hero, Activision bought RedOctane while EA bought Harmonix and created Rock Band. Activision was wildly successful with the Tony Hawk series even though it got stale about 5 years ago, and EA published Skate. The two publishers share the same methods behind their madness, and they intend to stop any and everyone who tries to stop them. For example, in 2005, after the success of 2K Games' NFL 2K5 game, EA sought, and got, an exclusivity deal with the NFL which is set to expire in 2012. This made Madden the only game in town and gave EA guaranteed revenue for about 6 years. Activision has some dirty skeletons in its closet as well, especially with the drama surrounding Infinity Ward, the team behind Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, as well as the decade long partnership deal recently inked between Activision and Halo creators Bungie. Another wrinkle in the Activision - Infinity Ward situation is that former Infinity Ward employees recently started a new development studio, called Respawn Entertainment, and this new company was seeking funding from EA. This development has got to have something to do with the verbal barbs being thrown between the heads of the two companies. It's sad two, because I remember both of these companies existing as small, talented developers and publishers in the 80's and 90's. Sadly, we may be at the point with EA and Activision that we'll never see quirky little games like Pitfall, James Pond, River Raid, or B.O.B.(no relation to the rapper) ever again. I think growth, power and success has gotten to the heads of these publishers, and if it isn't corrected, those same growing pains are going to lead to both falling apart.

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