If Activision was a Gladiator it would definitely be Wolf, the pantomime villain. But, speaking in a relaxed interview with GamesRadar, community manager Dan Amrich suggests that gamers have the publishing leviathan all wrong - that the hating is a part of the company's success, success that would not have been achieved had it not been for millions of fans paying good money for their games.
'I think people hate Activision for a combination of things. One, they are top dog - I call it the Yankees syndrome. The Yankees win, and the Yankees are a well-funded team, so people like to hate them. But the Yankees also have a lot of passionate fans that support the team because they like what the team does and what it is.
'People are eager to see a company like Activision fail, and I think that's part of it. It's fun to rebel against authority... even if the authority is perceived. I mean, Activision makes games; you either like them or you don't. You buy them or you don't. The authority is the person opening with their wallet. So Activision is successful because a lot of people - even some of the most vocal critics - enjoy playing the games it makes. And that doesn't mean they do not have a legitimate criticism, but it does mean that they enjoy having it both ways.'
Amrich goes on to suggest that what is required (and if we've learned anything for this week, it is surely this) is more communication and transparency.
'I think Activision has to keep making games that people want to play, first and foremost. If the games were not making people react, then they would not want to follow a soap opera around those games. But I'd like to think it's both ways -- Activision should keep trying to be transparent, to show skeptical gamers "this is why this was done" and "this is how we feel about this thing which you also care about very deeply" -- that's step one.'
However, he also notes that it's a two way thing, suggesting that they could give away lots of free stuff and engage in widespread charity work and people would still hate them...simply because it's more fun to do so.
'But gamers, on their part, have to be willing to listen to those things and take them at face value. If the audience says "But I don't care because you're Activision," well, that won't work either. Activision could be giving orphan kids prosthetic limbs and you'd still have haters who say they're building a cybernetic army for their own nefarious purposes. Some people are going to hate because hating is more fun. But if we can get both sides to lower that wall a bit - the big corporate wall and the gamer knee-jerk reaction - then we might be able to get somewhere. But at the end of the day, if the games are not good, nobody will care anyway.'
I think we'd all like to see a little bit more transparency when it comes to publisher practices, but it's not just restricted to Activision (ahem...Topware, anyone?). What do you guys think? Do we just need a big bad to hate on? Are we gamers trying to have our cake and eat it too when we arguably put them at the top in the first place? In any case, definitely check out the full interview with Mr. Amrich over here.