Activision Salutes Those About to Rock

With the help of consumer focus groups, the gamemaker has produced such hits as Call of Duty and Guitar Hero, and is expected to nearly double its earnings

Call it a lesson from the Battlezone. In 1998, video game maker Activision (ATVI) launched a version of the popular arcade game featuring a tank battle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union on other planets. It was one of several mid-'90s games—including Heavy Gear and Dark Reign—that turned into expensive flops for the company. The common theme? "They were well-produced and highly rated," says Activision Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Kotick. "And they had no audience."

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