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Top 10 Biggest Activision Fails

VO: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Nicholas Miller
Every company has their missteps, but this is a bit much. Welcome to WatchMojo! Today, we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Biggest Activision Fails. For this list, we’ll be focusing exclusively on the Activision side of things despite their merger with Blizzard, as Blizzard has definitely proven worthy of their own list down the line. To have your ideas turned into a WatchMojo or MojoPlays video, head over to http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and get to it!

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Top 10 Biggest Activision Fails

Every company has their missteps, but this is a bit much. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today, we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 biggest Activision fails.

For this list, we’ll be focusing exclusively on the Activision side of things despite their merger with Blizzard, as Blizzard has definitely proven worthy of their own list down the line.

#10: “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” Open Dot DLC

Ever since downloadable content became a common aspect of gaming with the rise of online services, there’s been a strong push and pull between consumers and publishers on what is and isn’t DLC-worthy. The conversation has only gotten more heated as things have shifted towards microtransactions. At the end of 2018, Activision, publishers of the Call of Duty franchise, decided to push the DLC limit once again by offering a single red dot sight for purchase on their in-game store. The only difference between this red dot sight and the standard red dot sight? The paid dot isn’t colored in. The special attachment runs for 100 COD Points, which equals roughly around a dollar! What a steal!

#9: Milking the Guitar Hero Franchise to Death

After the massive success of the first two Guitar Hero games in the mid-2000s, Activision purchased production company RedOctane and took over control of the franchise. Instead of continuing to work with original developer Harmonix, the publisher enlisted Neversoft to take over development on the series. Initially, success continued, with “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock” maintaining high sales and reviews. However, things soon went off the rails. Between 2007 and 2010, Activision released a ton of spin-off games across multiple platforms and devices. Instead of working to continue the franchise’s innovation, the series became a victim of market oversaturation and creative stagnation, leading to the franchise’s demise, at least for now.

#8: Letting the Crash Bandicoot Franchise Die

We’re already beginning to see a trend here. After purchasing rival publisher Vivendi in 2008, Activision gained the rights to the Crash Bandicoot franchise. To be fair to Activision, by this point the series was already a far cry from its early heyday. However, instead of attempting to reinvigorate Crash, the publisher sat on the franchise, opting not to do anything with it for years and showing the world they had absolutely no faith in the once-dominant franchise. After a slow but steady increase in vocal fan support over the years, Activision finally released a high-definition remaster of the first three games in 2017, which was a critical and commercial success, and a Crash Team Racing remaster is coming in 2019. Will we see brand new Crash games any time soon? We hope so!

#7: Overhyping “Destiny”

After Bungie left Microsoft and Halo behind in 2010 and announced their partnership with Activision, the publisher immediately got to work hyping up the next big game from the studio. It seems that from the beginning, the two companies weren’t always on the same page. It’s obviously the publisher’s job to sell the game to consumers as best they can, but when it became clear the plan for the end game essentially amounted to a transparently addictive gambling loot system and not much else, there was definitely a problem. The lack of content has been an issue that has plagued both games in the series, with the only real solution to be purchasing the DLC. Hopefully, a brighter future lies ahead for the franchise.

#6: Shutting Down Game Studios

Over the years, Activision has earned a notorious reputation for closing studios after an unsuccessful game release. It’s impossible to track the thought process of the company’s leaders, but these shutdowns often feel like knee jerk reactions that disrupt the lives of dozens or sometimes hundreds of people. Major studios such as RedOctane, Bizarre Creations, Radical Entertainment, and Neversoft were all shuttered after disappointing games, and that’s not including many of the smaller studios acquired and closed by the company. Business may be business, but looking at the often yearly release schedules these studios are put under by Activision, a bigger picture begins to form: one of unrealistic expectations held by a demanding triple-A publisher.

#5: Call of Duty: Elite

As if paying for a brand new, barely-changed title in the aging franchise every year wasn’t bad enough already, in 2011 Activision launched Call of Duty: Elite, a subscription service that offered players extra content, gameplay statistics and more. As they always tend to be when it comes to making money, Activision was ahead of the curve here, giving gamers a future glimpse into our current landscape of season passes and microtransactions that seem to be dominating the industry. Elite was apparently not very successful, however, reverting to a free model only a year after its release before eventually shutting down completely in 2014.

#4: “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5” (2015)

Making its name as one of the most beloved game series of the past 20 years, the “Tony Hawk’s” games were eventually run into the ground by Activision, just like so many franchises before and after. After nearly a decade drought between core entries in the series, Activision announced in 2015 that the next game would be a direct follow-up to the original Pro Skater games in the series. Upon release, the game was utterly demolished by both critics and fans, with some of the most common complaints being its horrendous graphics, numerous bugs, \and sloppy gameplay, and level design. After the game’s disastrous launch following a rushed development cycle, Activision promptly shut developer Robomodo down.

#3: Hiring Jamie Kennedy to Host Their E3 Panel

Activision had to know what they were getting into when they hired comedian Jamie Kennedy to host their 2007 E3 press conference. That, or they just didn’t do their research. Unfortunately for them, Kennedy completely bombed, and may or may not have been under the influence of… something. It’s been more than 10 years since this mother of all awkward E3 press conferences, and the fact that it still stands out in our heads just goes to show how much of a trainwreck the situation was. Activision no longer holds large press conferences at E3, and we have a feeling this incident played at least a small part in that decision.

#2: “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered” (2016)

For years, “Modern Warfare” was viewed as the pinnacle of the franchise in the eyes of many fans. When Activision finally announced they’d be giving the community what it had been begging for with a remaster of the game, excitement could not have been higher. Well, until Activision announced the game would only be available bundled alongside its newest release in the franchise, “Infinite Warfare.” On top of that, several weeks after the game’s release the company implemented a microtransaction system into the game’s multiplayer and announced that the pricing for the game’s downloadable maps (which normally would be included with any game remaster) would, in fact, cost more than the original maps did.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions.

“The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct” (2013)

Shovelware Tie-In Games

“Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare” Reveal Trailer

“Tony Hawk: Ride” (2009)

#1: Tweeting A Fake Terror Attack

As far as boneheaded PR moves made by influential corporate entities go, this one seems kind of difficult to top. In 2015, to promote “Black Ops 3.” the Call of Duty Twitter account was changed to a fake news account and began tweeting as if a terrorist attack was occurring in Singapore. It’s quite honestly astonishing that this move made it past the initial idea stage, let alone was okayed by the people in charge. If the act itself wasn’t bad enough, Activision and Treyarch’s “apologies” made it seem as though they couldn’t see what the big deal was. The ordeal even received mainstream press coverage, and when all was said and done, Activision wound up looking incredibly foolish.

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