Okay, so this month's FAIL is a little late, but it was a really tough one to put together mainly because it's a hefty one this time around. No other company can top this one's failures no matter how hard they try. They've been around since the dawn of the gaming industry and have witnessed countless other publishers and developers come and go. Some people would consider them the most evil company ever created while others say they're flat out the most intellectually challenged of them all. They've bought up independent studios and multiple hit games then subsequently destroyed them all while whoring out one franchise after another. This month in FAIL belongs to Activision.
I've waited a long time for this...
Like I mentioned earlier trying to make a list of their worst decisions is ridiculously tough since they've been around for so long and have an enormous laundry list of things to go through. Trying to nitpick through their whole history could take months and I don't think anyone wants me to spend that long on one particular subject. So we're going to break it down as simply as we can one era at a time and pick out the biggest, dumbest, most horrible things they've done to the industry and us.
This is where it all began for Activision and their first home was the Atari 2600 with a game called Fishing Derby. It wasn't anything special even for the time and was followed up by another game called Skiing. Again, it wasn't anything unique, but it started the pattern they have of putting out one bland game after another; a pattern that continues even to this day. They didn't have a runaway title until 1982 when they released Pitfall and nothing else they ever released in the 80's mattered. Strangely enough the sequel (Pitfall 2: The Lost Caverns) is remembered by most gamers unlike the original despite being called one of the best games of its time. It was ported over to multiple systems, including the SG-1000 (SEGA FAIL*) and even had an arcade version, but despite all of that people still remember the first one more. Obviously, Activision failed somewhere with that sequel.
My uncle has a slew of Atari games and not once did he hear of this one...
This is the decade when Activision went from an upstart to becoming the series spewing sellouts we know them as today. Most notably, that began in the late 90's with Quake and the Tony Hawk series. They didn't get their hands on Quake until after the original was released, but it goes without saying that they snatched that series up and rushed out as many sequels and expansion packs as they could. Quake III was when things went sour because it was strictly a multiplayer affair with no single player campaign to even mention. The series hasn't been officially killed off, but there hasn't been a main addition to it since 2005's Quake 4.
Quake, Activision, whoring, tramp stamp...was this image created for me by God or something?!
Tony Hawk, on the other hand, is the very definition of the words "whore" and "sellout". To date there have been 16 Tony Hawk games since the original release in 1999 including spin-off titles and remakes! The first few games had a great start and are responsible for making skateboarding games popular, but for some insane reason when other companies started competing with Activision the quality of Tony Hawk games quickly began to decline. Then, there was that f*cking idiotic skateboard controller for the Wii's Tony Hawk's Ride and the sequel, Shred. I think the testers were too busy sitting around with their thumbs up their asses when the time came to test out the board because the thing was just non-responsive no matter how many times you jumped on it or threw it across the room in a fit of blind rage. You'd honestly have better lucking trying to teach a horse how to ride an elephant while using science and voodoo magic to bring back genetically altered dinosaurs designed to eat only pro skaters!
I'll most likely touch on this one again when I FAIL useless peripherals.
This is also the era when they began their habit of buying out various studios and then shutting them down after a few of years like Luxoflux, Sierra Entertainment, and most notably RedOctane. And speaking of RedOctane...
And we've arrived at the focal point of Activision's transformation into the hideously grotesque overweight single mother who spends most of her time pushing out babies to collect larger checks from the government. Unfortunately, it all started with one of my most beloved science fiction TV series of all time, Star Trek. Activision, realizing that there was money to be made in Star Trek games, got their greedy hands on the rights and started whoring out Trek games that were so far removed from the source material that you probably couldn't tell they were Star Trek until someone told you or you saw the USS Enterprise for yourself! The only Star Trek game they crapped out that I'll defend up and down is Star Trek Bridge Commander. I won't go into detail about it here (mainly because the Star Trek video games could be a future FAIL I might write), but it's definitely the closest you'll ever get to sitting in the captain's chair and saying "Red alert! Shields up!"
Space, the whored to death frontier.
It's also the decade when Call of Duty got its humble start in World War II...and stayed there for far too damn long! It was thanks to Activision that other publishers began putting out their own WWII games and the biggest problem is that nobody ever tried anything other than that war! This is America, for crying out loud! We've got lot of bloody violent history to rummage through, so why the hell did everyone decide WWII was the only one worth making a game of? I think it might be because that's the one time where America can honestly say that, even though the death toll was astronomical, it was a war worth fighting and there was honor to be had because we saved countless lives. Really, though, you can only shine in the limelight of one event for so long and they managed to whore out WWII shooters for over a decade before people started getting tired of them. Now, it's all about the War on Terror, because nothing says "pointless" quite like waging war on an emotional state of mind. Next thing you know we'll go to war against depression and blow up Ethiopia.
I know "Big Red One" is a name for the infantry, but only people that know history would get it. They might as well have called this "Nazi Shooty One".
Even though Call of Duty was Activision's favorite spoiled brat, there was one series that debuted in 2005 that brought a special niche genre to home consoles in a way never thought possible. Even though music games had existed primarily in arcades it wasn't really until Guitar Hero's release when it finally made rhythm gaming a force to be reckoned with. The original game was a runaway success seemingly out of nowhere and made people appreciate music once more and was the lovechild of RedOctane and Harmonix. Activision acquired RedOctane for nearly $100 million and proceeded to run the series into the ground thanks to Neversoft, the team behind Tony Hawk, while Harmonix went on to create the series competitor, Rock Band. The moment Activision owned Guitar Hero they put out annual sequels and tons of expansion games/band themed games to stuff between sequels. The market was flooded with rhythm games thanks to them and, naturally, sales began to sink. Guitar Hero is dead now and took with it newcomer DJ Hero, but both will be fondly remembered and may stand of chance of coming back when someone else revolutionizes and revitalizes rhythm gaming.
You may or may not be missed. It mostly depends on who you ask. P.S. Please take Tony Hawk with you.
Currently, Activision is coddling their big cash cow of the moment, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, until gamers finally realize that they're paying money to play the original Modern Warfare but with a different number at the end of the title. They also merged with Blizzard (World of Warcraft and Starcraft), but have yet to destroy any of their games yet. I've always found it amazing that they can get away with putting little to no effort in their games and never offer anything truly innovative. I suppose they're a lot like Sony in that regard. Well, I guess I'll go kill some Nazi zombies now because we all know those damn Germans used zombies in WWII.
I LOVE ALL OF THIS CLEARLY EPIC VARIETY!!!