Today, at the DICE Summit Keynote, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick talked about his time in development, quotes he said, and decisions he’s made. One of those decisions was regarding the purchase of RedOctane.
After the success of Guitar Hero II, Activision decided it was time to snap up RedOctane and the Guitar Hero franchise. This forced Harmonix to split off and develop Rock Band for MTV Games and EA…which inevitably led to harsh words and criticisms being exchanged between the publishers.
When we were buying Guitar Hero, or buying Red Octane, the makers of Guitar Hero, we knew about Harmonix.
We had always known them as sort of somewhat a failed developer of music games. They always had really great ideas but nothing that was really commercially viable until Guitar Hero. And [we thought], it’s a good piece of software, and if we gave it to [Activision-owned Tony Hawk development studio] Neversoft, they’d knock the ball out of the park with this.We really didn’t even think, ‘Hey we should go to Boston, and meet these Harmonix guys and see what they’re up to.’ And, of course, if we had gone up, I think the world of Guitar Hero would have been rewritten. It would be a lot different today. And it would probably be a profitable opportunity for both of us and an opportunity where you’d have even more innovation in the category.
A lot of times when you get caught up in the financial details of the business, it makes you overlook what’s really important, which is who’s passionate, who’s committed, who’s inspired and where’s the next idea going to come from.
Currently, MTV Games owns Harmonix and EA publishes the Rock Band games. Harmonix’s contract with EA is set to expire next month, something EA’s John Riccitiello hopes to renew.
Why this is important: Let’s face it — we love to hate Bobby Kotick. I know it, you know, he knows it. In the same keynote, he even said “I don’t know how this happened, but all my life I was the rebel flying the Millennium Falcon or the X-Wing fighter and suddenly I wake up and I’m on board the Death Star.” His keynote today was incredibly warm-hearted and even a little self-deprecating. Which means either…
- He’s actually a nice guy with a head for business
- He’s trying to play to the crowd and tell them Nixon-style “I am not a crook.”
- He really wants Harmonix to ink a deal with Activision, join RedOctane once again, and get the band back together