Activision Blizzard Launches Studio, Plans ‘Call of Duty’ Cinematic Universe

7 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Activision Blizzard launches movie, TV studio.

The video game maker unveiled plans Friday at an investors meeting during the annual BlizzCon fan convention to create and release its own film and TV series. The first projects from the newly formed Activision Blizzard Studios will be based on the “Call of Duty” military shooter franchise and kid-focused “Skylanders” toy-game series. The new Skylanders series is currently in production, and will feature the voices of Justin Long as Spyro, Ashley Tisdale as Stealth Elf, Jonathan Banks from Breaking Bad as Eruptor, and Saturday Night Live’s Norm Macdonald as Glumshanks. That’s the company’s continuing strategy to dominate gaming and the larger entertainment industry, and it communicated the full depth of that strategy at its investor day today ahead of the Blizzcon event in Anaheim, California.

Activision said the eSports division will be working on “all-new ways to deliver the best-in-class fan experience across games, platforms, and geographies” but didn’t elaborate on its plans. When current CEO Bobby Kotick took over an ailing Activision in 1991, the company had become known as “lack of vision,” Kotick recalled in a video. The movie centering on the battle between the game’s Alliance and Horde factions is set for release June 10 and will be distributed by Universal Pictures. “Warcraft” filmmaker Duncan Jones was on hand Friday with the film’s cast to debut a trailer for the movie at BlizzCon, a two-day celebration of Blizzard series at the Anaheim Convention Center. In a presentation to investors at its shareholder day, Van Dyk explained that the company is not looking to be in the traditional Hollywood “hit” business, which is risky, but rather to be in the more predictable franchise/intellectual property business. And the idea is for the impact of the content to create a virtuous cycle: broaden the appeal of the intellectual property to a bigger audience, broaden the engagement outside the confines of video game playing, and strengthen the power of the franchises.

One of their earliest efforts, Return to Zork, a visual retelling of the Zork text adventure, was a “wild success” and it gave the company the capital to start making new games. That started the company’s focus on a “franchise strategy.” Fast forward to today, and Activision Blizzard has franchises that include Call of Duty, Destiny, Skylanders, Guitar Hero, Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo, Hearthstone, and Candy Crush Saga, which comes via its $5.9 billion pending acquisition of King. Activision Blizzard is also launching the latest installment in its mega franchise — “Call of Duty: Black Ops III” — to a fan base of more than 100 million gamers.

In addition to its shareholder meeting, it’s hosting 25,000 gamers for BlizzCon, its annual video game convention and competition, where matches for four different video games — with over $1 million in prize money — will determine the world champions. We are expanding our capabilities across platforms, genres, audience demographics, and geographies — but always in the service of our players.” Kotick said the focus will continue to be on providing the best games. Thomas Tippl, chief operating officer at Activision Blizzard, said on stage that in the last decade, eight of the top ten titles come from well-known franchises every year in the core console and PC game business. Its priorities include deepening engagement with franchises, and build enduring and beloved franchises with large, engaged social communities with whom the company has a direct connection, Tippl said. “This is the best team we could have joined in 2015,” Zacconi said. “Our vision is to serve everyone’s gaming kingdom” across all platforms.

And it is creating its own mid-core titles, or those that are hardcore in nature but played for short times, thanks to its own acquisition of Z2Live, for launch in 2016.

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