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Tippl: Social Game Investments Take Backseat To Major Franchise Expansion

Tippl: Social Game Investments Take Backseat To Major Franchise Expansion

June 23, 2010 | By Kris Graft

June 23, 2010 | By Kris Graft
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Electronic Arts aggressively moved into the social gaming space with the $300 million acquisition of Playfish in 2009, but Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard said it's focused on expanding existing businesses rather than jumping into the Facebook arena.

"We always look at opportunities, but we are very thoughtful about our investments," explained Activision COO Thomas Tippl in a new Gamasutra feature interview when asked about opportunities in the social gaming space.

"Right now, I would say we've got about seven opportunities that we are pursuing that are massive," Tippl said. "Those are Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, World of Warcraft, StarCraft, Battle.net, Diablo, the unannounced MMO for Blizzard as well as the Bungie relationship."

He added, "Those are huge opportunities. Any single one of them, we believe, is a bigger opportunity than whatever social gaming company you may want to look at."

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has made clear that the publisher wants to transition existing packaged franchises into online business models. Blizzard's Battle.net is currently undergoing a revamp that Activision hopes will generate more online revenues, and Kotick has hinted at a subscription-based Call of Duty more than once.

But Activision is still keenly aware of the burgeoning social market. Tippl admitted that if Activision were looking at major investments in social network gaming, the company "wouldn't be broadcasting" the news.

And Kotick said in a 2008 interview that one of the biggest challenges for his company is "figuring out how to make the game experience more fun than any one of a hundred Facebook applications." The social networking giant now boasts over 400 million users.

This year Activision also announced significant Facebook integration with Blur, a recently-released racing title developed by internal studio Bizarre Creations. The game allows players to share in-game photos, racing statistics and unlockable items with Facebook friends.

Tippl added that when Activision does see an opportunity for a new acquisition, the publisher is ready with its $3 billion in cash. "When we see great opportunities, we can add some value. We can make it happen. We only do it if it can happen at the right price. Therefore, we don't get more than one or two done a year. I don't think that that's going to change."

The full interview with Tippl is available now.


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