The Art of Posturing: Activision threaten to stop supporting Sony
With a puffed out chest and his fingers secretly crossed behind his back, Activision CEO Robert Kotick has come out and suggested that, unless Sony lower the price of the PS3, the super-publisher might have no option but to pull support for Sony’s platforms.
The statement, resounding around the internet yesterday like a wrecking ball, has caused many people to weigh in with their opinions on why such an eminent figure in the gaming industry would come out with such a bold and, let’s face it, totally incredulous statement.
Speaking to TimesOnline, Kotick claims:
â€œThey have to cut the price, because if they donâ€™t, the attach rates are likely to slow. If we are being realistic, we might have to stop supporting Sony. When we look at 2010 and 2011, we might want to consider if we support the console â€” and the PSP [portable] too.â€
Of course, this isn’t the first time the outspoken CEO has banged on about the PS3’s high pricing point. In fact, his last call for a price reduction resulted in Sony retorting that they were sure all publishers would love for Sony to just give the console away.
The fact is: the PS3 is a premium machine and is therefore priced higher than that of its competitors. We’re sure Sony could have released a PS3-lite with no hard-drive, built-in wifi and then asked consumers to pay for online gaming, but this would simply be incongruant with Sony’s business model.
That said, we all want a price-cut for the PS3 as, even though the vast majority of readers on this site already have one, we know a lower price will result in a higher penetration rate and naturally lead to more investment in the PS3 as a whole. Let us be clear when we state: the chance of Activision pulling support of Sony’s platforms is extremely remote.
Kotick might hark on about the high-cost of development on the PS3 but, despite its lower install base, games continue to sell incredibly well on Sony’s powerful console; and with 23 million of the beasts in the market, Sony are hardly merely “making up the numbers”. We’re not going to drag up sales figures but there is compelling evidence available showing that, despite a lead of a few million units on the PS3, multiplatform games, including those from Activision, sell only marginally better on the 360 and not pro rata in comparison.
So why make sure an incendiary statement that has very little likelihood of being followed through on in the first place?
The general consensus is: Bobby wants a price-cut, Bobby knows a price-cut is coming and he’s basically preaching to the converted and stating the obvious in an effort to expedite the inevitable reduction. Â Also, if you check the full article and read between the lines, considering Kotick readily brings up the amount of royalties his company has forked out to Sony (some $500 million last year alone), we wouldn’t be surprised if this feigned outcry is merely a volley across the corporate bows and Activision are simply looking to wrangle a better publishing deal with the Japanese giant in the future.
After initially coming out with a “we respect our partner’s opinion, blah blah blah, no comment” statement, Sony have since added a little more shine to their reaction with Kotaku now running the full response fromÂ Sony’s Patrick Seybold:
“PlayStation has tremendous momentum coming out of E3, and we are seeing positive growth with more than 350 titles slated to hit across all our platforms, including many anticipated games from our publishing partners. We enjoy healthy business relationships with and greatly value our publishing partners and are working closely with them to deliver the best entertainment experience.”
We echo Sony’s response to the controversial statement and recognise that corporations pontificate and bang their chests all the time when they’re looking for something. We have no doubt that Mr. Kotick has an inkling of when the price-cut is coming. We also wouldn’t be surprised that he’s merely trying to win brownie points so, when it does come, (and the latest rumour is that it will be announced at TGS at the end of September – but you know how we feel about rumours) he can brim with pride and claim his company had some influence in the decision.
It’s pure hubris however as, if there is one thing we’ve learned about Sony over the years it’s that they do not like to be bullied. And when the PS3 is available at a lower pricing point and Sony and Activision are in a darkly lit smoke-filled room with new royalty terms on the table, Sony will undoubtedly remember Kotick’s blustering and wild statements and have no problem driving an aggressive a deal as possible because of them