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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.