Never let it be said that there is no money in downloadable content or paid gaming subscriptions.
According to Bloomberg Bussinessweek, approximatively 12.5 million Xbox owners ponied up the annual subscription fee to play games online, and that is estimated to have brought in about $600 million in revenue. To make things even more interesting, Dennis Durkin, Xbox’s chief operating officer, e-mailed the publication that sales of TV show episodes, movies, avatar items and downladable game content topped subscription fees for the first time ever in the financial year ended June 30th.
However, where there is money (blood) in the water, there are companies (sharks) who want a cut of it. It seems that Activision Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick told Bloombergs, “We’re driving a lot of the subscription interest and certainly hours of game play.” The translation being that the company feels that due to the success of its Call of Duty series, Activision should be getting a percentage of the Live subscription fees.
This reminds me of when record labels went to Apple and said they deserved a percentage of iPod sales because no iPods would sell without them. The problem with this line of thinking is that it is very much a “which came first” scenario. Would Activision be selling as many Call of Duty titles without the online component? Would it be selling map packs at $15 a pop without the online component? Who exactly is feeding the other? Considering the money Activision is making hand over fist, it might want to think about making sure its developers are happy as opposed to trying to get money that it is questionable it has any claim to.
Any way you slice it, Microsoft should be pretty happy with its Live service, and now the question is if Sony can copy it with its upcoming subscription service for the Playstation.