Infinity Ward, more information!

So more information appears to have been forthcoming/divined on the whole Vince & Jason vs Activision spat.

It would appear that from conversations with people in the know, Jason and Vince were not surprised to be fired from Activision because of their unwillingness to have the MW brand milked to the point of invalidating the IP worth. If reports are correct, they were almost certainly putting in perparations for this eventuality – the lawsuit they handed Activision on being fired appeared suspiciously fast for a straight reaction to being fired. I’m sure that if they statements of being ‘interrogated for 6 hours’ are true, you can draw your own conclusions on what to expect next in that situation.

But what is more interesting is that my own speculation is that this was more about control of the MW brand than anything. It’s been mentioned that in a memorandum of understanding between IW and Activision, that IW has the final approval rights for the MW brand. Meaning Activision cannot just milk the franchise as they would like willy nilly and as they have done with other IP they get their hands on.

Now, given this is modus operandi (ie business as usual) at Activision, I can imagine this must have been a massive sticking point. They’ve milked the living crap out of Guitar Hero, although it has to be said that I personally wouldn’t disapprove of that. Guitar Hero has a limited shelf life anyway – there are only so many people who want to buy a plastic guitar and once you hit that number the market will inevitably contract. Milking it now is robbing the future value of the brand, because it doesn’t have any anyway. Might as well milk it now while it *does* still have value.

In the case the Modern Warfare brand, that is not the case. As I see it, Jason and Vince were probably trying to extend out the life and value of the brand by NOT overselling it and spreading it everywhere. When you do that it’s called Brand Dilution and the more of it there is out there, the less it’s valued individually. This is why Ferrari doesn’t make normal commuter cars and why Honda separates its high end business of Acura with a different brand name – to avoid brand dilution.

So here we have Jason and Vince trying to ‘protect’ their brand they’ve spent time building and we have Activision on the otherside desperate to milk it for all it’s worth. Lets not forget that the Guitar Hero business IS dying off, and they need to keep expanding as a corporate or die. So they need to increase income from something else to cover the potential lack of reveneue from Guitar Hero.

Activision traditionally sucks at creating IP inhouse, prefering to buy it from outside. So they have nothing internally to cover this. So what do they need? They need to exploit something they *already have*. Oh, look, there’s Modern Warfare looking all sexy and chick and popular. Lets exploit that! Oh, we can’t – we have this pesky Memo of Understanding (which, lets be clear, is NOT a contract – it’s an understanding between two people which should lead to contract) and those annoying guys over there at IW refuse to let us exploit it.

Damn.

Oh wait. They’ve been talking to EA? Oh MAN!! This gives us the lever we need!! Quick, call the lawyers!

I mean, it’s all too believable, isn’t it?

This isn’t about the royalties for Modern Warfare 2. This is about control of the brand, and the external-looking-for-a-deal gives Activision the lever it needs.

The biggest problem I have with this is that Activision, almost to the same day, authorised $190 MILLION worth of shares to be distributed to the execs. I mean $190 MILLION worth.

Activision has a problem with creating IP right? Here’s an idea. Keep, oh, $100m of that money and try putting it back into the company in order for it to have a future. How about this? Take that $100m. Split it into $2m parcels, then pay for lots of teams to spend 6 months and that $2m and build a prototype / vertical slice. The top, oh, 8, get full funding. That’s 50 prototypes they get to judge. 50!. And the execs still get $90m to share among them selves.

I mean, that’s doing something to promote the future of the company, but no, instead they’d rather rape the money that’s there now, at the expense of the future.

Honestly, the share holders, if they had any sense, would oust this lot making the decisions at Activision Pronto.
But they won’t. And the cycle will repeat itself down the road again.

It’s just too depressing for words.

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