Brainstorm Tech 2010

Where the Fortune 500 and the innovators meet to shape the future of business. (July 22-24, 2010)

Activision's Kotick continues console attack

July 22, 2010: 6:52 PM ET

The game maker CEO makes the case for the TV as Internet platform in his latest dig against the "walled garden" console

by Laura Rich, contributor

If Bobby Kotick has his way, the couch potato will be back. Speaking at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference, the Activision Blizzard (ATVI) CEO laid out a case for moving all Internet activity to the television screen, where the company has a vested interest as its flagship games like Call of Duty add more storytelling and borrow the animation techniques of films like Avatar. Kotick argued that such games were better suited to the television.

"Everything belongs on the big screen," he said. "The bigger the screen, the more immersed you'll be in the experience."

Activision has been lustily eying a move away from its reliance on the traditional game console, where revenue from consoles' Internet extensions of its games eludes the company (the console makers retain all income from Internet activity). Meanwhile, Activision's own Internet efforts are driving some growth. In March, revenue was derived largely from two Internet components of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: online play and the download of the related Stimulus Package. In another sign of its intent to move away from the console, Activision's Starcraft II, the first update of this game in ten years, will debut on the PC on July 27. A console game has not been developed.

Up next, he inferred: Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, Activision's other blockbuster title, in an immersive environment on the television. He noted that the company continues to add feature film techniques to its games. For Call of Duty 4, the company used the same animation approach as Avatar to create its characters and added richer and more complex storylines.

Kotick's focus on the television is a continuation of his drumbeat against the "walled garden" consoles, as he's called them.

Kotick expected the expansion of television as an Internet and entertainment platform would be driven in part by the adoption of 3D-enabled TVs, as well as the addition of HDMI cards in game consoles that allowed them to connect to television sets. "In 2015, there will be more than 1 billion LCD, LED and plasma TVs," he said. Meanwhile, television viewing has been augmented by Internet activity, such as social networking and games. He noted that 29% of kids and teens "media multitask" today. The key to adoption, he said, would be "an interface that doesn't require a degree in theoretical astrophysics."

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