Studio boss suggests that the talent hunt will tie into a new digital strategy

Activision wants its $500k indie contest in Europe

Activision says it wants to look beyond the US in its $500,000 search for the new breakthrough indie talent.

Yet the company said that its independent games contest – which was announced by CEO Bobby Kotick this year – will need to be guided through a number of complex legal hoops before it can be granted entry into Europe.

An Activision rep told Develop: “You can’t just give away money apparently! Initially, there were so many legal hurdles for us, and we totally have looked into expanding the competition into Europe, to be honest with you, but there were just so many legal things in the way.”

The rep added: “It just took us so long just to get the rules set up for the US, that we really just didn’t have time to expand it across Europe.”

The clarification comes as part of an upcoming Develop interview with Dave Stohl, the executive VP of worldwide studios at Activision, and a decorated development veteran who began his career with the group back in the mid-nineties.

As part of the discussion on the indie contest moving to Europe, Stohl himself added: “First things first, I want to make sure it works in the US. We want to make it work, and I’m taking this thing in baby steps.”

In June Activision opened the first phase of its Independent Develop Competition, where aspiring game designers were asked to begin submitting game concepts to the Call of Duty publisher. In October, Activision will pick a winner and runner-up, awarding $250,000 between both, from a selection of five finalists.

The contest will start afresh after the winners are announced, where a further $250,000 will be awarded to a new batch of finalists.

Stohl added: “We’re figuring it out right now, and there’s obviously a lot of passion for the scheme. This is a work in progress and we’re still trying to figure out how we do it. This is why we have two phases with revisions along the way.

“As big as everything has become in this industry, I think it’s a really cool thing for us to do. For a guy like me who’s been around forever, I’ve seen the industry change so much, and the barriers to entry have got higher for people wanting to work at studios.

Aside from handing out cash to the two first-place winners and two runners-up, Stohl hoped Activision would be tempted to strike a number of publishing deals with many more finalists.

He said that the idea for the contest had been floating around Activision for a long time, adding that “Bobby [Kotick] had a lot of passion for the idea.”

He also hinted, though couldn’t outright confirm, that the indie contest will tie in with Activision’s digital strategy.

Said Stohl: “Given the size of the games in development, I imagine this contest will mix in with our digital strategy, but nothing’s been finaslised. There is a lot of opportunity now for digital content, so I would say digital channels is the most likely outcome for the winner.”

Activision yesterday clarified rumours that the Independent Games Competition meant finaists had to relinquish their own IP.

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