Originally published in Exeposé – University of Exeter Student Newspaper
Marcus Beard takes up the fight for industry innovation.
Let me tell you about publishing giant Activision’s humble beginnings. Formed in 1979 by former music industry executive Jim Levy, Activision was the first game developer not to be owned by console manufacturers – the first independent developer. Creating games for the Atari 2600, just one developer would work on each game, creating titles such as ‘Tennis’, ‘Ice Hockey’, and the ground-breaking ‘Fishing Derby’ – each game having mechanics entirely new and different from the last. Levy would ensure a whole page in each manual was dedicated to the developer, in the hope new talent would be attracted to create the best games out there for consumers.
So what happened? Things went the same way as the music industry. Activision grew too large, core developers broke away, lawsuits were started, and smaller publishers were acquired; it became all about the dollar. Activision is now the top publisher in US, and after firing and attempting to sue the co-founder and lead designer that created the series, will be releasing its eighth Call of Duty game in five years. Almost indistinguishable from its predecessor and using the same stale engine and formula it has been for five years, Modern Warfare 3 is set to break all-time sales revenue records in entertainment industry. It is the videogame industry’s Justin Bieber.