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Kotick: Little Value For Activision In Mobile, Facebook Markets

"We don't view the App Store as a really big opportunity for dedicated games," says Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, explaining why the company's not interested in the booming mobile or social markets.
New platforms and business models like mobile and social mean that the AAA publishers are no longer chasing the exact same marketplace. While publishers like EA actively aim to make Facebook and iOS part of their revenue strategy, companies like Activision Blizzard would rather stay away. Activision has made its millions on big brands like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, and despite the fact known brands are a major advantage -- if not increasingly necessary -- for games that want to top the App Store charts, the company just doesn't see phones and tablets as a useful opportunity for its products. "We don't view the App Store as a really big opportunity for dedicated games," Kotick said at Reuters' Global Media Summit. As games are very nearly the most popular category among both free and paid App Store purchases, many industry-watchers see iPhones and iPads as legitimate contenders alongside other portable game hardware like the PSP and the DS. Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter even went so far as to suggest Apple platforms hold a share of responsibility for a 2010 that's seen mostly sales declines, and that they could be "cannibalizing" other platform sales. But Activision has had plenty of success leveraging the infrastructure of existing console platforms -- not only did Call of Duty: Black Ops bring in $650 million in its first five days on sale earlier this month, but the publisher is able to do a significant share of follow-up business by selling map packs and DLC for its games via Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. And although many companies are turning to brand extensions on Facebook, Activision says the challenges in converting user numbers into actual revenue makes the social network another area that's less than ideal for its focus. "It's a different question assessing it as a business opportunity," said Kotick. "Right now we don't see an opportunity for us to participate in that market."

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