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Kotick: Listening To Customers 'Matters More Than Ever'
Kotick: Listening To Customers 'Matters More Than Ever'
November 16, 2010 | By Kris Graft

November 16, 2010 | By Kris Graft
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    17 comments
More: Console/PC



A trio of veteran industry executives gathered at San Francisco's Web 2.0 Summit -- co-organized by Gamasutra parent UBM TechWeb -- on Tuesday, reflecting on the changing gaming landscape and new launches of headline-grabbing entertainment products and services.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business president Don Mattrick joined moderator Bing Gordon of venture capital firm KPCB to talk Kinect, World of Warcraft and the importance of listening to your customers in a dynamic online business.

"I think [listening to customers] matters more now than ever before..." said Kotick in remarks listened in on by Gamasutra, "because you have incredibly passionate and vocal consumers, and they are really thoughtful and articulate about what they would like to see in a game, how you can enhance the experience."

"So if you take the time and actually listen to what your customers have to say, you are going to create much better experiences," he added. Kotick said that World of Warcraft has a customer support team of around 2,000 workers.

Currently in beta is World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the third expansion to the MMORPG, which currently has 12 million players worldwide. Gordon commented on beta periods for online products like MMOs, which these days can take an extended period of time as game companies make tweaks. Cataclysm is set for launch December 7.

Kotick said that these long periods of testing are a result of a more comfortable financial position for the game maker, which this month raised calendar year forecasts to $4.28 billion in revenues following a successful launch of Blizzard's StarCraft II.

"I would say that one of the great benefits of the merger of Activision and Blizzard is the elevation of patience," Kotick said. "Partly because we have the financial resources to do it, but we're now in a place where we can really take the time to make sure that we're going to deliver the best games. And that's an incredible luxury."

He continued, "You have to instill that value into the culture. Blizzard has that as a unique value of the culture, and it's now been very well-instilled across all of Activision Blizzard. Patience is rewarded."

Microsoft's Kinect is another product that took its time getting to market. Just released this month, the sensor for Xbox 360 was originally unveiled to the public in June 2009, as Microsoft and developers were still experimenting with the device.

Now with 1 million units already sold following its November 4 release, Microsoft expects Kinect to beat calendar 2010 sales targets of 5 million units. "The first time that I saw a mom with an eight-year-old child get up, start using it, start figuring it out in 47 seconds and leaving the focus group to come find someone from Microsoft to say 'when can I buy one,' I felt encouraged," said Mattrick.

Gordon asked Kotick about the rather improbable situation of World of Warcraft coming to Kinect. "That's something you'd have to ask Mike Morhaime [Blizzard CEO]," Kotick said.

Kotick also commented on the possibility of the evolution of the living room-based video game system, as Gordon asked about new televisions that could have gaming capabilities built in.

"I think that one of the things that's happening today, there are more displays, more microprocessors than ever before," said Kotick. "I don't know who's going to be the first to build that big, enormous installed base beyond what Don [Mattrick] has done and what Sony has already accomplished, because they have the biggest installed base of internet-connected TVs today, and providing a lot of essential internet services beyond games."

He said that in five to seven years he expects there to be connected displays that "offer better gaming experiences than what we could've envisioned. I can't think of anyone who'll win other than the gamer, because they'll have a lot of options."


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Comments


Owen McNamara
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Kotick? Listening to players?



Bbuuuuuuhhhh....?

Scott Southurst
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Yep - he hears "Blah blah blah - ctching - Blah blah blah - ctching"

Buck Hammerstein
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kotick heard all those who bought $15 dlc map packs that had 2 old maps dusted off... and he grinned an evil grin :)

dennis crawford
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He listens to his customers, you don't see any slow down of consumers buying any call of duty after they raised the PC prices and took away dedicated servers. They basically told him its OK to charge more for the games with less features. If people would have refused to buy these games at the price they launch at then we would see the price drop.



Now other companies are starting to charge more. YAY, consumerism.

Tim Carter
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They don't buy it for the features. They buy it because it's Call of Duty.

Jose Resines
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Want us to believe that Activision Blizzard cares and listens to customers?. Start by restoring LAN support to StarCraft 2. Until then, we call BS.

Alan Rimkeit
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+1 X 1,000,000..... o.O

Cody Scott
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and dont forget chat rooms and clans..... stupid battle.net 2.0 (or should we say battle.net 0.5)

Rodolfo Rosini
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In his defense (and boy me defending Kotick...) he's listening to his customers in terms of purchase behaviour, not forum nerdraging. If people buy less of his games or he expect them to, he'll change. Until then he will get away with things as much as he can.



Want LAN support on SC2? Then don't buy SC2 or stop playing it. At least start a website and organize a large scale protest that capture the eyes of senior management. But until you keep pouring money into ATVI coffers do not expect to get anything more than a condescending nod.

Alan Rimkeit
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I have not nor will I ever buy SC2 until the put back LAN. Until then it is not a game I will play, EVER. I know I am not the only one either. Lots of original SC fans, such as myself, refuse to play their game. Sorry Blizzard, Battle-Net 2.0 is not enough to make up for the lack of LAN play. :(



This all makes me very very sad.

Kris Morness
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I haven't done LAN gaming since about the year 2002. Really, what's the value of LAN, when everything is already connected to the internet? Xbox Live, Windows Live, Battlenet, PSN, Steam. They all offer a lot of extra persistent features that LAN can't compete with anymore.



You can still do LAN parties, just without the hassle of getting LAN games to function!



Seriously, feels like a generation ago...

Alan Rimkeit
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What is the benefit of LAN play? why sitting in the same room with you buddies drinking beers talking trash on each other whilst laughing and playing games!



That is the value. It is why so many people love playing games like Mario Kart on split screen instead of on-line.

david paradis
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Yes, you and at least 3 other people who think your "mega"-boycott of one of the greatest games ever made, because your having some weird, pseudo-noble, nostalgia frenzy will actually affect anything.



Not buying the game is just volunteering to miss out on one hell of a gaming experience.



And as others have stated, Battle.net can support whatever you wanted to do on LAN. If you are maybe thinking "well if I use battle.net, I cant make up my very own unique maps with my very own rulesets void of any Blizzard control"......well you havent seen all the custom maps, and how much freedom there is to make whatever you want.



And the best part......those creations can be shared with more than you and your basement dwelling LAN partners.

David Delanty
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Oh come on. What games have come out recently that DID have LAN support? And doesn't the inclusion of Steam's 'Friends/Invites' system negate the necessity of LAN? You can all Ethernet up, connect that router to the Internet, then send out invites. Unless you're living in the armpit of Appalachia with an Internet supplied by smoke signals and telegraph, LAN isn't a necessary addition for, well, anything anymore.



Yes, great idea, let's punish developers for not living in the past. While we're at it, let's boycott Starcraft 2 for the lack of a dialup latency option, Windows 98 support, and Voodoo3 graphics card compatibility. After all, STARCRAFT 1 HAD IT, WHY NOT 2?

Tim Carter
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But you can set up a lan - like with a lan party - without internet access, right.

Mark Kilborn
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SC2 aside, as I have no interest in the series, I miss LAN play for one simple reason:



My wife and I love to play games together. She plays shooters, racers, etc with me. And I'm a bit pissed that we have to pay for TWO XBL Gold accounts so we can play a few evenings a month with each other when, on the Xbox, we could generally use System Link and just have one XBL account.



They are offering the family plan for XBL, which is a step in the right direction. We're thinking of rounding up a friend or two and splitting the cost across the four of us.

Michael Joseph
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"I would say that one of the great benefits of the merger of Activision and Blizzard is the elevation of patience," Kotick said. "Partly because we have the financial resources to do it, but we're now in a place where we can really take the time to make sure that we're going to deliver the best games. And that's an incredible luxury."



http://www.destructoid.com/the-secret-to-blizzard-games-is-endles
s-iteration--149282.phtml

http://gdc.gamespot.com/story/6253464/blizzards-pardo-serves-up-g
ame-design-secret-sauce-



No doubt Blizzard has always "got it" when it came to releasing very high quality software that is very user friendly and polished and is an overall joy to use. That seems to stem from an old school view of engineering products where they were designed to last and the company's reputation was built on quality. Too many studios/publishers want to get by with releasing throw away junk where the company succeeds only if they can get next versions sold every year.



If Blizzard's culture continues to rub off on Activision's non Blizzard games then that's a very good thing.


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