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Ephemeral entertainment and Activision's strategy for success


In a time when the video game industry is down to a handful of mega publishers and even small-scale independent developers have risen to become competitive, Activision stands out for making huge plays and reaping massive rewards.

Activision Blizzard is going into this holiday season with one of the strongest publisher lineups in recent memory. It's not just the diversity of the games, but the scale that makes it so impressive: Destiny, Skylanders, Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Hearthstone.

"It never feels like that from the inside, it's a tough business and each one of these games is a hard slog to get done and bring to fruition," Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg told us at Gamescom. "In my mind, we still gotta get the ball across the goal line. You can't take anything for granted."

Although Activision Blizzard has yet to prove the viability of Destiny or announce the quantitative success of Hearthstone, shareholders seem to be happy. The company's stock has risen 50 percent over the past year and it's currently trading at its highest value ever.

"I think entertainment is an incredibly ephemeral thing to build a business on, yet you can look at things and ask a few tough questions. You can ask, 'Do we have a breakthrough idea? Do we have something transformational?' Look at Skylanders and you can say yes. 'Do we have a reason to believe we can make this game better than anyone else?' You look at Bungie and we like our chances there," answered Hirshberg when asked about the company's core strategy.

He expressed the Call of Duty franchise's momentum has lasted longer than the pundits ever expected. Hirshberg believes there is great pressure and risk in having a focused lineup of only a few franchises, but it also allows the company to make sure they get the "love and care and resources they need."

"In each case we have a reason to believe we have something special and reason to believe we can do it better than anyone else. And when we feel those things and there's a market opportunity where a lot of people can appreciate it, we go big."

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