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Activision to Hold Independent Games Competition

By on June 4, 2010 7:16:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Tormy-

Join Date 02/2006
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http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/28813/Activision_Announces_Independent_Games_Competition.php

Activision, typically known for its big budget releases like the Call of Duty and and Guitar Hero franchises, has announced the Activision Independent Games Competition.

This inaugural edition of the competition will comprise of two phases, the first of which invites individuals and teams in the United States to submit their projects. Activision will accept entries, which can be completed or in-development games (as well as concepts and proposals), starting today through August 31st 2010.

The publisher will then announce a first- and second-place winner, bestowing $175,000 to the former and $75,000 to the latter to fund further development of their games, in October 2010. The second phase of the competition will begin at a later date, with details on that round forthcoming.

By the end of the competition, Activision expects to have awarded $500,000 to support independent game developers and their projects. You can read the official rules for the Activision Independent Games Competition and submit your title at Activision's Sweepstakes page.

"This competition underscores our commitment to supporting the creative spirit and innovation of developers," says Activision's EVP of Studios Dave Stohl. "I started my career as a software developer, so this opportunity is something I'm personally very proud to offer to the industry's young visionaries."

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June 4, 2010 8:07:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't trust this.

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June 4, 2010 8:46:37 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I couldn't see Activision doing this for the good of the indie devs, which leaves only one possibility:

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June 4, 2010 9:06:26 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Lol @ that picture!

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June 4, 2010 9:22:07 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

 

Q. How do you ensnare future talented Game developers to work for your Games Development Companies when the entire industry and the educated portion of your customer case knows you're the embodiment of all that is wrong with the world?

A. Offer $500,000.00 in prizes for the best independant game, wait to see the talent pool and their respective games and offer the most talented ones binding contracts with a zero or two more attached to their contracted salaries than they'd ever expect to see in their entire life times.

As Activision sell their games on a global scale, offering the competition to only American citizens tips their hand; it's a nice and tidy way of avoiding the very costly legal wranglings of hiring international talent and getting them to America, set up where you need them to be and with a Work Visa.

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June 4, 2010 11:18:36 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Not enough bait on that hook! Nosiree!

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June 4, 2010 12:44:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

How are they even Independent Games if ActiVision funds the development?

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June 4, 2010 12:55:09 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Your avatar goes well with statement, Eidolon.

And yeah, this can only be a trap.

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June 4, 2010 2:00:28 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

This is a good idea. his is about the survival of PC gaming for God's sake!!!

Indie developers need funding, major publishers need original PC titles, if indie developers keep their heads together and look at what they sign, I think this can be very good for PC gaming.

Would you rather have an excellent game like Space Rangers sell a couple 100,000 when an Activision has the muscle to get the game into the public eye, where I am sure it would have sold a couple million!

What about The Path, and Aquaria and others? They all deserved much more attention, but where too small.

This is an ideal arrangement if done properly. If the indie developers don't change because of the money, and if major publishers are willing to publish and back PC titles that are 'outside the box', then I can see a win win.

Without something like this, a couple hundred thousand hardcore gamers like us will know where to go to get these small indie titles, but the mass market will walk away. We will become the train-spotters of the games business looking backwards rather than forwards, with 100,000 playing the latest indie title, but a million going back to play X-Com or System Shock 2, etc,  This is already happening, with DOSBox having over 5 million downloads! Think about it - FIVE MILLION downloads!

The PC gaming format is very close to Oblivion. 10-12 years ago you would have had 50+ AAA PC titles being released for the Xmas market in the final quarter of the year. In 2009 Gamespot only reviewed 72 PC titles FOR THE WHOLE YEAR! Add to that the fact that the average review score for those 72 games was 68%, you can see that the PC format is suffering from lack of quantity AND quality of games.

Without schemes like this growing and multiplying, I don't see how mainstream PC gaming can survive, so I have to hope this idea works and other major publishers jump on board.

It's also down to us gamers. Do we just want the big $30 million blockbusters with all the bells and whistles, or are we willing to consider a second level of gaming that have only had $3 million spent on it? For years now, we have had the Hollywood. Now we need to support the Sundance Festival end of the market too for it too survive. Even the movie business needs the occasional Piano Player, 4 Weddings and a Funeral and Blair Witch type hits. But how would low budget, great games get made unless we have schemes like this?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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June 4, 2010 2:33:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting humorguy,
This is a good idea. his is about the survival of PC gaming for God's sake!!!

Indie developers need funding, major publishers need original PC titles, if indie developers keep their heads together and look at what they sign, I think this can be very good for PC gaming.

Would you rather have an excellent game like Space Rangers sell a couple 100,000 when an Activision has the muscle to get the game into the public eye, where I am sure it would have sold a couple million!

What about The Path, and Aquaria and others? They all deserved much more attention, but where too small.

This is an ideal arrangement if done properly. If the indie developers don't change because of the money, and if major publishers are willing to publish and back PC titles that are 'outside the box', then I can see a win win.

Without something like this, a couple hundred thousand hardcore gamers like us will know where to go to get these small indie titles, but the mass market will walk away. We will become the train-spotters of the games business looking backwards rather than forwards, with 100,000 playing the latest indie title, but a million going back to play X-Com or System Shock 2, etc,  This is already happening, with DOSBox having over 5 million downloads! Think about it - FIVE MILLION downloads!

The PC gaming format is very close to Oblivion. 10-12 years ago you would have had 50+ AAA PC titles being released for the Xmas market in the final quarter of the year. In 2009 Gamespot only reviewed 72 PC titles FOR THE WHOLE YEAR! Add to that the fact that the average review score for those 72 games was 68%, you can see that the PC format is suffering from lack of quantity AND quality of games.

Without schemes like this growing and multiplying, I don't see how mainstream PC gaming can survive, so I have to hope this idea works and other major publishers jump on board.

It's also down to us gamers. Do we just want the big $30 million blockbusters with all the bells and whistles, or are we willing to consider a second level of gaming that have only had $3 million spent on it? For years now, we have had the Hollywood. Now we need to support the Sundance Festival end of the market too for it too survive. Even the movie business needs the occasional Piano Player, 4 Weddings and a Funeral and Blair Witch type hits. But how would low budget, great games get made unless we have schemes like this?!

Thing is, Activision is the problem with pc games today, not the solution.  If they got their hands on any of the indie games you mentioned, they would destroy them, mark my words.  I mean look what they did to Blizzard, they're now "Blizzard Business Unit of Activision", and SC 2 is coming out in 3 parts.

50+ AAA games released in one Xmas 10-12 years ago?  Really?

And you cited gamespot as a source...

And PC Gaming dying?  Does this need to come up again?  It's been "dying" forever!

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June 4, 2010 6:11:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Bill_Door,

And PC Gaming dying?  Does this need to come up again?  It's been "dying" forever!

..as we know...it's dying but the various Facebook games will save it!

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June 4, 2010 6:55:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Tormy-,



Quoting Bill_Door,
reply 9

And PC Gaming dying?  Does this need to come up again?  It's been "dying" forever!



..as we know...it's dying but the various Facebook games will save it!

Let us all bow down before farmville, the savior of all pc games!

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June 4, 2010 7:27:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting humorguy,
...But how would low budget, great games get made unless we have schemes like this?!
The same way they've always been made -- which can arguably be easier now with the net and it's attendant opportunities like DD for distribution, social media for cheap advertising and word-of-mouth, etc.

Consider music and how the net is facilitating independent musicians to bypass the big labels.  Same with games.

Read the thread on Activision's takeover of Blizzard and see what Activision expects from the games it publishes, and ponder what sort of games they'd support, and how that would shape the new games we'd see -- and, especially, not see.

From that thread the link  and some quotes:

"Activision Blizzard drops titles like Brütal Legend, Ghostbusters, Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, WET and a few others, because they do not fit the new business model. Shortly after that, SIERRA Entertainment also gets shut down with an impending sale of the company remaining."

Why business model didn't they fit and so caused them to be dropped?

"With respect to the franchises that don’t have the potential to be exploited every year across every platform, with clear sequel potential that can meet our objectives of, over time, becoming $100 million-plus franchises, that’s a strategy that has worked very well for us."

So Activision wants games that:

-can be "exploited" every year across every platform

-have clear sequel potential

-will become $100 million-plus franchises

If a game doesn't meet these criteria it's dropped.

Even successful game developers have trouble with Activision -- ask the ex-Infinity Ward (Company of Heroes Call of Duty*) folks.

*mistake caught by SpardaSon21

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June 4, 2010 7:34:47 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Even successful game developers have trouble with Activision -- ask the ex-Infinity Ward (Company of Heroes) folks.

Better edit that, Infinity Ward did Call of Duty, Company of Heroes was a Relic game.

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June 4, 2010 9:37:00 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Well responses to my post seem to point out that nothing will change and AAA Mainstream gaming will go the way if the Dodo with only games like World of Goo etc type of games being available, which is not my cup of tea, Hence last year about 70% of my PC gaming was retro when the previous year I doubt it was over 50% meaning next year it could be 90% and the year after......

I repeat, with over 5 million DOSBox downloads, PC gaming is already looking backwards for it's future PC gaming, because it sees the writing on the wall....

 

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June 4, 2010 9:45:10 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Bill_Door,
I couldn't see Activision doing this for the good of the indie devs, which leaves only one possibility:

Hrhr, that was my first thought too, when I saw this

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June 4, 2010 9:51:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting SpardaSon21,

Even successful game developers have trouble with Activision -- ask the ex-Infinity Ward (Company of Heroes) folks.
Better edit that, Infinity Ward did Call of Duty, Company of Heroes was a Relic game.
Oops...

Thanks for the correction!

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June 4, 2010 10:05:06 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting humorguy,
Well responses to my post seem to point out that nothing will change and AAA Mainstream gaming will go the way if the Dodo with only games like World of Goo etc type of games being available, which is not my cup of tea, Hence last year about 70% of my PC gaming was retro when the previous year I doubt it was over 50% meaning next year it could be 90% and the year after......

I repeat, with over 5 million DOSBox downloads, PC gaming is already looking backwards for it's future PC gaming, because it sees the writing on the wall....

 

Activision is still not a company that indie devs should even THINK of working with. Every good PC game has learned by now that Activision=Heresy Most Foul.

The other thing is, SO WHAT if DOSBox has been downloaded more than 5million times. That doesn't mean 5 million DIFFERENT people downloaded it. Sometimes you download something, install, don't like&uninstall/delete the installer, and then need the installer again because you either need or decide it was useful after all.

Besides, there's still quite a few awesome indie games that are highly innovative experiences. Shattered Horizon is probably one of the best examples of this.

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June 4, 2010 10:10:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Whiskey144,



Quoting humorguy,
reply 14
Well responses to my post seem to point out that nothing will change and AAA Mainstream gaming will go the way if the Dodo with only games like World of Goo etc type of games being available, which is not my cup of tea, Hence last year about 70% of my PC gaming was retro when the previous year I doubt it was over 50% meaning next year it could be 90% and the year after......

I repeat, with over 5 million DOSBox downloads, PC gaming is already looking backwards for it's future PC gaming, because it sees the writing on the wall....

 



Activision is still not a company that indie devs should even THINK of working with. Every good PC game has learned by now that Activision=Heresy Most Foul.

Yeah, if the indie devs should look to anyone, it should be Stardock.  Activision is just trying to sign as many indie devs as they can, soon devs won't need publishers like Activision anymore, with direct download services becoming more popular they'll be able to self-publish.

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June 5, 2010 12:28:44 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Very true Bill. As much as some may hate me for saying it, Valve and Stardock (but especially Stardock) seem to be the most indie-friendly companies around. Steam has a number of indie titles (but nowhere near what SD's got ).

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June 5, 2010 1:04:53 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Bill_Door,

Quoting Tormy-, reply 10


Quoting Bill_Door,
reply 9

And PC Gaming dying?  Does this need to come up again?  It's been "dying" forever!



..as we know...it's dying but the various Facebook games will save it!


Let us all bow down before farmville, the savior of all pc games!

I suggest farm-town as the next game.. involving sheep 

Almost like the Call of Duty games, lets re-skin everything we can to make more money!

I dont see anything in the future of games coming from activision, trust them to choose the indie game with the most instant commercial appeal not any lasting customer satisfaction. 

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June 5, 2010 1:09:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The Suits must have ran out of creative talent to exploit...

To hell with Activision.

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June 5, 2010 1:38:55 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

The Suits must have ran out of creative talent to exploit...

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June 5, 2010 2:12:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

lol

NICE!

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June 6, 2010 10:54:51 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

... and just as I expected, the fine print holds some interesting clauses that give Activison complete control over any title entered into the competition.  However, they go a few steps further than what I had anticipated.

Firstly, the game has to be unknown, and I mean totally unknown.  No press of any kind can exist for your game.  It must be completely invisible - that means not even a publically accessibly website advertising your game - for it to be allowed entry into the competition.  It must also not have been entered into any other competition of any kind. This means that the first people to ever see your game must be Activision's employees.

Next, by entering your game you're acknowledging that the Sponsor (Activision) has first dibs on your game.  If someone offers you a terrific contract for your game, which is unlikely being that it's invisible and no one knows it exists, you have to give those contract details to Activision and allow them the chance to offer you something.  Only if Activision then offically refuses to pick up your game for publishing can you then offer your game to another publisher.  This removes negotiation; you can't take the contact Activision has offered to another publisher to see if they can offer you a better deal.

Another interesting part is that by entering your game into this 'competition' you're giving Activision right to copy parts there of your game without limitation.  This means if you develop some really cool gameplay mechanics, graphical techniques or art that would make you a billion dollars due to their inventiveness, Activision are allowed to copy them entirely and for free and without crediting you.  Considering that the game is invisible to the outside world via the above clause, you're handing over everything you've done to Activision's control.  If they like it, they can take it for free.

You must also provide a complete business run down of the production of your game including, but not limited to, the budget, team break down and schedule for completion.  This reeks of profit fishing.  If your game is going to take a long time to finish, Activision will most likely avoid publishing your game and simply steal the mechanics and reproduce it.  Using your schedule for completion, they'd be able to finish their game before you finish yours essentially beating you to the market with whatever cool idea you have.  If your team is large, and thus the cost of developing your game is quite high and thus costly for Activision, then the same situation applies.  This essentially allows them to pick the nearly complete games that will cost them nothing to finish and will be ready and available to start making them money ASAP.

Oh, and you also have to give credit to Activision for your game regardless of them publishing your game or not.  Once you've entered your game into the competition, Activision's name has to be on it.

This is essentially a turkey-slap to the face to the Indie Community as it creates a scenario where-by Activision can cherry pick the best talent, the best mechanics and the best ideas and have legal permission to then steal anything if its cheaper than publishing your game. 
Say you have a fantastic Indie Game that would easily be picked up by another publisher, Activision can then not reward the game in the compeition thus keeping it invisible to the outside world.  They can then steal parts of your game to make a new game using one of their slave Development companies under contract and then deny you the ability to sell your game to someone else by not refusing to publish your game until they've completed their own.  This strips control completly away from you.  Then, once their game is finished and released on, say, the iPhone App Store, Xbox Live, etc., your original game is now just a copy of Activision's original game.  Then they finally and offically refuse your publishing agreement, and since your game is now a knock-off, you won't get another publishing deal or at least a deal anywhere near as attractive.  And you can't complain because you gave Activison the right to do so by entering into their competition.

I guess raping the Retail Market, the DLC market, their top-teir Developers, the makers of the biggest released title in history, Blizzard, Battle.Net and probably cute kittens just wasn't enough.  They now want to rape the independent developer scene too.  Short of 'Inception' style dream/idea stealing, this is about as close as you can get to out-right stealing the best new concepts and ideas before they hit the market.  This isn't so much an independent games competition as it is a conveyor belt for Activision to pick and chose from - cost-free, I might add.

I never thought I'd say this, however I think it's time the Nazi's were removed from atop the 'Pyramid of Evil'.  They had a good run, over 60 years as the most evil collection of human beings in the history of our little Planet.  Activision's evil is something else entirely: it truly knows no bounds.

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June 6, 2010 11:30:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ZehDon,
... and just as I expected, the fine print holds some interesting clauses that give Activison complete control over any title entered into the competition.  However, they go a few steps further than what I had anticipated.

Firstly, the game has to be unknown, and I mean totally unknown.  No press of any kind can exist for your game.  It must be completely invisible - that means not even a publically accessibly website advertising your game - for it to be allowed entry into the competition.  It must also not have been entered into any other competition of any kind. This means that the first people to ever see your game must be Activision's employees.

Next, by entering your game you're acknowledging that the Sponsor (Activision) has first dibs on your game.  If someone offers you a terrific contract for your game, which is unlikely being that it's invisible and no one knows it exists, you have to give those contract details to Activision and allow them the chance to offer you something.  Only if Activision then offically refuses to pick up your game for publishing can you then offer your game to another publisher.  This removes negotiation; you can't take the contact Activision has offered to another publisher to see if they can offer you a better deal.

Another interesting part is that by entering your game into this 'competition' you're giving Activision right to copy parts there of your game without limitation.  This means if you develop some really cool gameplay mechanics, graphical techniques or art that would make you a billion dollars due to their inventiveness, Activision are allowed to copy them entirely and for free and without crediting you.  Considering that the game is invisible to the outside world via the above clause, you're handing over everything you've done to Activision's control.  If they like it, they can take it for free.

You must also provide a complete business run down of the production of your game including, but not limited to, the budget, team break down and schedule for completion.  This reeks of profit fishing.  If your game is going to take a long time to finish, Activision will most likely avoid publishing your game and simply steal the mechanics and reproduce it.  Using your schedule for completion, they'd be able to finish their game before you finish yours essentially beating you to the market with whatever cool idea you have.  If your team is large, and thus the cost of developing your game is quite high and thus costly for Activision, then the same situation applies.  This essentially allows them to pick the nearly complete games that will cost them nothing to finish and will be ready and available to start making them money ASAP.

Oh, and you also have to give credit to Activision for your game regardless of them publishing your game or not.  Once you've entered your game into the competition, Activision's name has to be on it.

This is essentially a turkey-slap to the face to the Indie Community as it creates a scenario where-by Activision can cherry pick the best talent, the best mechanics and the best ideas and have legal permission to then steal anything if its cheaper than publishing your game. 
Say you have a fantastic Indie Game that would easily be picked up by another publisher, Activision can then not reward the game in the compeition thus keeping it invisible to the outside world.  They can then steal parts of your game to make a new game using one of their slave Development companies under contract and then deny you the ability to sell your game to someone else by not refusing to publish your game until they've completed their own.  This strips control completly away from you.  Then, once their game is finished and released on, say, the iPhone App Store, Xbox Live, etc., your original game is now just a copy of Activision's original game.  Then they finally and offically refuse your publishing agreement, and since your game is now a knock-off, you won't get another publishing deal or at least a deal anywhere near as attractive.  And you can't complain because you gave Activison the right to do so by entering into their competition.

I guess raping the Retail Market, the DLC market, their top-teir Developers, the makers of the biggest released title in history, Blizzard, Battle.Net and probably cute kittens just wasn't enough.  They now want to rape the independent developer scene too.  Short of 'Inception' style dream/idea stealing, this is about as close as you can get to out-right stealing the best new concepts and ideas before they hit the market.  This isn't so much an independent games competition as it is a conveyor belt for Activision to pick and chose from - cost-free, I might add.

I never thought I'd say this, however I think it's time the Nazi's were removed from atop the 'Pyramid of Evil'.  They had a good run, over 60 years as the most evil collection of human beings in the history of our little Planet.  Activision's evil is something else entirely: it truly knows no bounds.

 I knew there'd be some caveat, but this, this is something else.  It saddens me that such companies exist, now excuse me while I go sit in a corner and cry.

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