Did Activision Really Just Flush 500 Million Bucks Down Destiny’s Filthy Toilet?

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Yes. According to Reuters, Activision is indeed budgeting 500 million dollars for Destiny. Not for the whole project, though. Just the first game. While this includes every single cent involved in the creation of the game from development to marketing, it’s a huge gamble on a franchise that could still fall flat on its face.

Responsible for shitting out a Call of Duty game annually since the early 2000s, Activsion isn’t exactly hurting for cash. Bungie’s latest sci-fi MMO/RPG/FPS/social media adventure/”we can’t let Halo go” title has been steadily releasing a stream of very pretty images and news, and the hype for the latest AAA “masterpiece” is reaching its usual feverish pitch.

A Destiny teaser image. Will these character types be playable?

A Destiny teaser image. Will these character types be playable?

By all counts, this is probably a solid investment even though sales will need to exceed 15 million at release date retail prices just to break even. Then they start making money. And some analysts who have probably never played a video game in their entire lives are saying it might not even get half of GTA V’s incredible sales.

The reasons behind this humongous gamble are many, and some are quoting Activision’s lagging sales numbers. Fan appreciation for Call of Duty games seems to be waning as well; whether that’s about a decade too late is another debate. But here’s the deal: Activision’s revenues are lagging if you’re an American business man. If you’re anyone else, they went from making 4.9 billion to 4.6 billion Let us shed our tears in a moment of silence for sums of money we can’t even comprehend.

From the image alone, I don't even know what Call of Dookie this is from.

From the image alone, I don’t even know what Call of Dookie this is from.

Activision might have a grand plan for Destiny, but this is still a huge risk–an incredible gamble. With the days of Halo long behind it, Bungie is truly on to an undertaking massive in scope. Covering ten years and three or possibly four games in total, Destiny could be the beginnings of the next big franchise.

Or it could flop spectacularly. Though if Activision is counting its chickens before they hatch, they’re in a good position to do so. After all, beloved and talented composer Martin O’Donnel isn’t on the payroll anymore so they don’t have his salary to worry about. Then again, neither will the future titles have his music. Two steps forward, three steps back.

And the future of the franchise is anything but clear. It hasn’t even debuted and they have a grand ten-year plan. It hasn’t even been ten years since the PS3 was released. We’re already on the next generation, and if we’re playing on consoles in another decade it won’t be the ones on our shelves right now at this rate.

Will we even be using consoles? Will Activision or Bungie even be in business?

Will we even be using consoles? Will Activision or Bungie even be in business?

The flop of Destiny would be truly incredible, whether Activision spends the entire budget or not. This is the next AAA franchise from the creators of Halo, and imagine if it saw only one game released before being shelved indefinitely. Activision would be ripped apart by the media. Investors would be furious that half a billion bucks was foolishly wasted, and their confidence in publishing powerhouse would be shattered.

But no one’s fooling anybody. Destiny will most likely be a huge success. With Bungie at the helm and a history of conning millions of gamers into thinking Halo was pure divinity on optical media, Destiny will likely follow in those footsteps. Hell, it might even be good.

You could tell me this screencap was from Halo and I'd believe you.

You could tell me this screencap was from Halo and I’d believe you.

This outcome is what truly terrifies me more than anything else. It will send a message that will resonate throughout the industry: the future of smash hits is here, and the entry point price is $500,000,000. Wannabes, please get in the indie line. Maybe try Kickstarter?

Sure, it’s brand-new IP (unless it proves itself to be Halo with a different name, more players, and an EXP bar) and a top-notch dev team, but there are tons of great shops out there pumping out great titles. Yet if Destiny hits the jackpot of profit and playability, the landscape of game development could suffer.

Will companies “waste” their time on “lesser” titles? Probably. Will they still garner attention? Probably. Will they get the same level of recognition? Probably. Will their quality suffer while publishers such as EA Games and Activision get their dev shops to pump out the “next big thing” with even more creativity-crushing force than before? Hopefully not.

Will this game be worth a publisher's time and money in the nigh future?

Will this game be worth a publisher’s time and money in the nigh future?

My concern is for games like Bravely Default. Games like Fire Emblem Awakening, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Fantastic games that, while not easy on the wallet, might not be worth anyone’s time anymore as the attention and focus remains on the multi-billion dollar franchises.

I don’t care about Destiny. At all. But now I’m paying very close attention to how this will all turn out. Come September 9, 2014 and the months to follow, we’ll all find out how Activision’s big gamble comes up.

Maybe I’m being too cynical. Maybe not. With any luck, I’ll be wrong and the gamers will win – both in the short-term and the long, no matter the outcome.

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About Author

(Writer)

This one was born in 1989 and counts watching his old man play Hack on an ancient PC as one of his earliest memories. Fond of JRPG's, visual novels, and the RTS' of old, Mike's gaming preferences are "anything so long as it's got a good story." A simple network engineer from Philly PA, he looks forward to exploring the intricate world of gaming with ye!

  • Tony D

    I don’t even know where to begin, so I’m barely even going to start. Activision is pretty much the only publisher on the planet with $500million to blow, so the idea that this will give others “bad ideas” is laughable. Squenix spent a fraction of that money on Tomb Raider and still dubbed it a failure; Not to mention the recent success of Bravely Default has (hopefully) shown them the error of their “Big Budget AAA” ways.

  • Trim Dose

    Epic Fail meme could have a new name, you just did a Destiny Fail.

  • Hates bad writers.

    No game should cost this much, they threw money at it for the sake of throwing money around. Complete waste, this game didn’t even need 5 million. Games should cost less to make, the software available to developers makes that so, licensing engines is also very cheap. No end of young talent to hire for the cheap either. If Bioware can make the games they used to make starting out with $100,000, I think everyone could use a little less.

    • Henr0s

      Do you even understand what it takes to make a game? Yes this is excessive, but creating a new IP on next gen simply can’t be done for $100K

      • Hates bad writers.

        Really? Because it’s been done, by 3 people, with a game called Cube. And it’s exactly how Bioware started. I wouldn’t even flinch if someone said 2 million, I get that people need money sometimes. But we’re seriously going to justify 500 million? You couldn’t point out a single fucking process during development that would cost that much. It’s bloated advertisement, and it isn’t helping.

        The shit you could fix in this world with HALF A BILLION DOLLARS, and we waste it on a fucking video game that didn’t need near that amount to be the product it is? And that other moron calls me a bad person.

    • icuntbelifeitIslamRULES

      wut? Unless it’s YOUR money they’re throwing around, why would you even care how much they “throw away” on a game? If it’s not MY money they’re throwing around, then i want them to use absolutely AS MUCH MONEY AS POSSIBLE to help improve it in whichever way they can. Who the hell are you to tell someone else what to do with their money ?

      “No end of young talent to hire for the cheap either.”

      If they’re talented, then pay them good money for their hard work. Employers like yourself are scumbags, who exploit young, talented workers in whichever field, just so you can pay them a terrible wage that doesn’t equate to the amount of hard/quality work they put in, just to buy yourself a new jetski cover for your 4×4′s trailer that week.

      You are a horrible person.

      • Hates bad writers.

        Did I say treat them as slaves? That’s called a straw man, and it kills any argument you thought you had. Take a seat, kid, you have no clue what ti takes to make a game, or how much it costs.

  • Henr0s

    15 million copies to make their money back is in accurate, GTA sold 32M and made billions, selling 15M copies is going to guarantee a large sum, plus DLC and preorder copy tiers there a lot more you haven’t taken into account. Plus the fact the development cost would include creating the engine and such, which by the time for the second game would require minimal work, so putting 500M in now means that later they’ll only have to put in another 100M lets say

    • Jewy McJew

      True, clearly they are thinking about the long game. Still though, it is one HUGE risk.

  • joe

    this is the most troll article I have ever seen. Use some professionalism if you want to be a critic. Also 15mil multiplied by $60 is 900mil not 500mil and you forgot about DLC/season pass sales.

    • EnterTheNexus

      There’s other factors like taxes.

      • icuntbelifeitIslamRULES

        and sammiches

  • Ivan Romero

    You did not say anything in your entire article…just complain about activision..and while I got sick of CoD too, they are still good and entertainable games…. you dont need half a billion to make a success game….you just need something new…which is for what they are going for…might work or not

  • Aaron Nixon

    All I read was Bungie and “conning” into the same paragraph.

    Get some real perspective, this is just crude and unfunny beyond justification.

  • ChatWraithGamma

    Troll article?

    You like strategy games and not shooters…I guess. I’m pissed that bungie fired marty o’donnell and I’m going to wait for someone else to buy it and see if it sucks before I do, but all the “is this halo”, and “are these playable”.

    Dude, come on. Be serious.

  • Jewy McJew

    I get nervous whenever a developer talks about how a ridiculously large investment right now is necessary for successful sequels.

    The “Too Human” developer made the same argument when it was clear that their huge-ass development cost was not producing huge-ass results.

    Then again, this is Bungie we are talking about.

    • icuntbelifeitIslamRULES

      “when it was clear that their huge-*** development cost”

      It’s THERE, not “their”, moran.

      • GremDude

        Uh if you are the spelling police, they need to do some hiring. Their was correct and it is moron not moran. The internet is turning people into cavemen…

      • Jewy McJew

        Feel better now? :)

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  • Shakeslikecrazy

    They’ll never make that money back. There are already reviewers calling the game boring, so this will probably be a good game (hopefully) but very likely not great enough to make that investment have enough return. Not by a long shot.

    • icuntbelifeitIslamRULES

      reviewers/previwers are calling this game “boring” becuz it’s not an exbot exclusive game. they are butthurt because Bungie finally woke up with some comman sence and jumped ship to a better company at last. xbox only fan here by the way so DONT think i am trolleing

  • ImonadrugcalledCharlieSheen

    “Responsible for shitting out a Call of Duty game annually”

    Read that and new this was some top tear reporting by a real classy professional.

  • luvthesnapper

    This is a back and forth, “I don’t know what’s going to happen” article. Could have gone without being written at all.

  • http://twinfinite.net Ed McGlone

    I don’t think that Destiny will be a flop. I believe that it’s going to be profitable for Activision. However I do agree with your concern that this sets a scary precedent for AAA games. This works for Activision and that’s great but I hope this doesn’t mean that other publishers feel obligated to go down the same path.

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  • Drew

    I think there’s a point to be seen here, and it’s that throwing $500 million at every AAA release could become destructive to the AAA industry. It’s something that came up when Tomb Raider was seen as a financial disappointment, even though it sold like four million copies in one month. Imagine if Hollywood released an Avatar every weekend- companies would be going under all the time. Now no one is holding publishers at gunpoint and saying “put this much money into it,” but it’s a fair question to ask. That being said, I dont think Activision would put that much money down without crunching the numbers to determine their possible returns.

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