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Activision:  Call Of Duty  Gamers 'More Engaged' Than Facebook Gamers
Activision: Call Of Duty Gamers 'More Engaged' Than Facebook Gamers
August 9, 2011 | By Mike Rose

August 9, 2011 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Activision's Call of Duty franchise sees more players who are willing to pay-to-play online than any other Facebook game, while CoD players are "more engaged" than those who play the top Facebook titles, the publisher said Tuesday.

As part of the 13th Annual Pacific Crest Global Technology Leadership Forum, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg explained the company's upcoming Call of Duty products are set to receive far more interest than the top Facebook games.

Hirshberg's comments come as Activision has been hesitant to dive headfirst into the Facebook gaming market, instead focusing on triple-A console game development, downloadable content and upcoming non-Facebook online businesses like the subscription-based Call of Duty Elite and kid-friendly toy tie-in game Skylanders.

"Call of Duty has more players who pay-to-play online than any Facebook game," Hirshberg explained, "and our players pay more per player on average than any Facebook game."

He continued, "They're also more engaged - the percentage of Call of Duty's monthly unique players that play the game every day is higher than that of the top three Facebook games."

The executive defended Activision's cautious approach to social and mobile gaming during a recent earnings call. Although companies like leading competitor Electronic Arts are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into social gaming, Hirshberg said, "We feel [Activision's] strategy continues to be very well aligned with the market opportunity."

Hirshberg today also suggested that gamers in general are not being less active, but instead focusing their gaming on particular franchises.

"Despite all the hand-wringing in our industry right now, people aren't gaming less," he said. "In fact, they're gaming more than ever. They're just doing it with fewer games, and they're spending more time playing those games than ever before."

"Last year, of the top 10 best-selling games, all 10 of them were based on strong existing franchises, and nine of those 10 were online enabled," he noted.

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Harry Fields
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Be careful sirs, lest your franchise become the next Guitar Hero. The MW1 formula, while great, is getting a little worn out. Time for some innovation if you expect to keep those levels of engagement.

Vin St John
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Isn't this widely publicized knowledge?

>"Call of Duty has more players who pay-to-play online than any Facebook game,"

Call of Duty require players to pay in order to play, and it is one of the most successful games/franchises at doing so (being a top-seller for several years).

>"and our players pay more per player on average than any Facebook game."

Call of Duty costs $60 to play. Average Facebook transactions don't even go that high (although there are plenty of games that throw in a hugely overpriced item just for fun).

I'm not knocking Activision for stating their reasoning (it's solid) - just Gamasutra for highlighting this as though it's news. Of COURSE Call of Duty makes more money than Free to Play games. The promise of F2P games doesn't appeal to the top 1% of current AAA developers. The promise of F2P is appealing to the other 99% - the ones that aren't currently seeing a return on their investment in complex, 3D, boxed-product games.

F2P has the *potential* to reach audience sizes of Very Large Number, and make money by monetizing some small fraction of Very Large Number. Call of Duty is one of the few console games that actually consistently is sold (for $60 a pop) to Very Large Number. Nintendo's more successful games also fall into this category (hence Nintendo wondering aloud why anyone would ever price a game at $1).

To everyone else... lowering their price or going F2P may mean reaching that kind of audience size for the first time.

Simas Oliveira
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I think the newsworthy part is that he is belittling EA's facebook strategy by overstating how awesome they are with their fancy CoD franchise.

It's basically the same as Nintendo saying they are above $1 apps, they only make AAA blockbuster kind of games, and all the rest is crap and they can't get bothered, and people are dumb for even thinking about those silly things...

Naeem Moose
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At this point its a choice between Skyrim and MW3 (due to close release dates). I have easily spent over 600 hours playing Morrowind/Oblivion/Fallout 3 + all DLC and expansions. I'd say every penny I spent on all three games was accounted for, and more.

While I know the average gamer will never finish his game or play less then 10 hours and move on. I still feel that Skyrim would be the better buy compared to MW3. If I want a fun FPS, I can always go back to the gold ol' days of MW and MW2 to some extent. If there is any need for a fun shooter, there is always Gears 3 and Battlefield 3.

I just hope there are more people out there that wont just keep dropping $$$ for every Call of Duty that comes out from now till when this fad expires.

Lyon Medina
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Quick question Hirshberg, if you were to spend 60$ (and not even that after taxes) on a product wouldn't you be more engaged in said product?

This is where this analysis gets silly for Activision comparing Facebook games to console games. Engaged in Facebook games? Yes if your one of those people who spend money in the games you become engaged, but for those of us who never spent a dollar we could care less.

This is an empty analysis that Activision is trying to flex it's muscles about how grand they are. Please just make us good games. And I don't mean for you to make another Call Of Duty:*insert title* game. Yeah last thing we need this upcoming year.

Vin St John
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Agreed, except that I'm not sure Activision was trying to flex its muscles. I'm guessing that, in context, this statement was suggesting that they don't see a particular need to jump on board with social/F2P games, because they've got a good thing going in their particular space.

Obviously, Activision is a giant corporation fully capable of having multiple revenue streams, but the point still stands. This is just conjecture, but if I posed the following question to a game developer: "Will you be joining the trend toward free-to-play games on Facebook?", I would expect them to say "It's an exciting time because the barrier to entry is so low that we can get millions of users to play a game, and the expectations for that game are something we're capable of meeting in a short turnaround time. We'll just have to figure out how to monetize!" None of those things sound like anything Activision has a need to worry about.

Joe McGinn
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What a bizarre press release - talk about comparing apples to oranges. More like comparing swiss cheee to chocolate.

Harlan Sumgui
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Not really. It's about the reasoning behind strategic decisions wrt resource deployment. i.e. why have they not shifted some of their talent to the f2p lcd arena.