Activision’s Greg Canessa on mobile ambitions, Activate and the App Store

Greg Canessa is the former Apple, Microsoft, PopCap and Blizzard executive who has finally launched Activision’s mobile games division. A year ago, Activision Mobile Publishing didn’t exist; today, it has a partnership with analytics gatekeeper Flurry, a new studio in Leeds and a new social mobile platform called Activate. And its ambitions don’t end there.

Activate was revealed alongside two new Skylanders games earlier this year. The backend technology already powers older iOS releases like Call Of Duty Zombies, but with the announcement of the Skylanders titles Lost Islands and Battlegrounds, Activate went public.

Activision updated several existing iOS games to open up Activate’s login, account system and social features, like leaderboards, achievements, cloud storage and customer service support. So it’s Activision’s take on EA Origin or Gree, right? “I won’t speak for EA or GREE in terms of what their goals are with their platforms, but from our perspective our mobile social platform is different in a couple of key ways,” Canessa tells us.

“We’re not trying to go in and create yet another social sphere. With some of those other offerings they force you to set up yet another login, username and account system, because they want to own your data as a customer. Activision’s approach is different in that we realise that customers are sick of that.

“They have existing social spheres and a ton of logins and passwords and they don’t want to create yet another account, yet another friends list. They don’t want to hassle their friends again to get onto another service to benefit Activision. That just doesn’t make any sense.”

Instead, what Activate does is create a profile quickly through Facebook, and attempts to make the experience as quick and easy as possible. Then, alongside its social features, Activision can aggregate its mobile and tablet audience while also cross-promoting the games it publishes through Activate.

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