Bleak realities of the market leads to unpopular decisions, says studio boss

Activision on not being evil, but a business

Though Activision is widely seen as an untouchably rich third-party publisher, it is still at the mercy of volatile industry trends, and at times needs to make unpopular decisions.

That was the evaluation offered by Dave Stohl, the executive vice president of Activision Worldwide Studios, when asked about the recent round of layoffs at the company.

“Are we required to focus our business more? Yes of course, everyone is,” he said. “Absolutely every company in this industry is. That’s the realities of the marketplace.”

Stohl continued: “The development of projects has got so big that we, by necessity, have to look at some parts of the business and admit they are not as big as they want to be. That’s the realities of the business.”

Earlier in the year it was widely reported that as many as 300 developers were made redundant across various Activision studios, following a tumultuous year for the music games market.

Develop put to Stohl that these kind of layoffs were not evil in the way Activision’s detractors routinely portray, but a straightforward business decision for a company looking to stay ahead of its competitors.

“Maybe it is an inevitability,” said Stohl. “Layoffs happened across the entire industry, and everywhere else.

“There’s no other way to describe it apart from saying it was, for us, a real shame.”

He said that tough decisions were always hard to deal with.

“But, there’s other [more positive] aspects of Activision that is business driven,” he said.

“The way we release franchises, the scale and rate in which we release games – that itself has introduced some really interesting challenges.

“We have to make these games unique, we have to make them innovate and kick ass – that’s a solid business strategy for success. We have to make great games.”

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