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Activision COO Tippl: 'Franchise Fatigue' Is An 'Excuse'

"[Franchise fatigue] is something that I have not bought into," Activision Blizzard COO Thomas Tippl told Gamasutra at E3 in Los Angeles this week. "I think it’s an excuse for lack of innovation."
Activision Blizzard is known more for releasing annual iterations of Guitar Hero, Call of Duty, and Tony Hawk than creating new intellectual properties. But Activision COO Thomas Tippl told Gamasutra at E3 on Thursday that so-called “franchise fatigue” isn’t much of a concern – as long there is innovation with every series installment. “[Franchise fatigue] is something that I have not bought into,” he said. “I think it’s an excuse for lack of innovation. If you have a great franchise and you stop innovating, then yes, you will lose your fan base.” “If you think about it, if you have a large fanbase around the property, [it gives you the opportunity] to communicate directly with them, to really understand what they love about the game and what they’d like to see in the game,” said Tippl. “You can market it much more strongly than new IP.” Tippl said that Activision’s strategy for new IP is cautious, noting that 99 percent of all new IP fails within a year, across all kinds of consumer products, not just video games. “[Launching a new IP] is a very, very difficult thing to do, which is why we do it, but extremely selectively,” he said. The next major franchise installment in Activision’s prize Call of Duty series is Treyarch-developed Call of Duty: Black Ops, slated for November 9. Tippl said that Activision, which recently established a separate Call of Duty business unit, sees the franchise to continue to evolve. “There’s so much that our Call of Duty fanbase wants that we are not providing yet, that we see many, many years of innovation ahead of us,” Tippl said. When Tippl joined Activision in 2005, he brought with him several years of executive experience with highly-successful consumer goods company Procter & Gamble, which is home for products ranging from toilet paper to potato chips to laundry detergent. He still draws from that mass market experience. “When people come up and tell me, ‘how can you possibly make another Call of Duty,’ I always tell them that I used to work for a company that every year had to figure out how to make a white shirt whiter,” Tippl said. “And [Procter & Gamble] have been doing that for 35 years with a product like Tide.” He continued, “You’re telling me with all the opportunities we have, and the technologies and the content ... and all the different stories, the characters that we can develop, that we can’t innovate on a franchise for 10 years? Give me a break. Then we’re just not doing our job.” The full interview with Tippl will appear on Gamasutra in the near future.

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