Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, has condemned EA's combative attitude in the run-up to the release later this year of Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, saying: "This kind of rhetoric is bad for our industry."
Hirshberg's comments come from his keynote address at the Gamescom event in Cologne, where he responded to comments made by EA CEO John Riccitiello, who said in June that he wanted Battlefield 3 to take from Modern Warfare's key audience. "All I want to do," Riccitiello said,"is have them rot from the core."
"Competition is, of course, a good thing," he said. "It keeps us all on our toes and ultimately makes the games better. It's healthy. But it's one thing to want your game to succeed and another thing to actively, publicly, say you want other games to fail.
"Recently a competitor of ours was quoted as saying he wants to see Call Of Duty rot from the core. I've been asked countless times to respond to this comment and I've generally chosen not to. My job is to help our incredibly talented, passionate teams make the best games they can, and not to throw insults around at others. I actually feel this kind of rhetoric is bad for our industry."
The reason for that line of thinking, Hirshberg says, is that better games make for a healthier industry. "I want it to keep growing and bringing in new people," he said. "When someone in this industry does something great, it doesn't just benefit their company. It benefits us all. I believe that as many great games as this industry can make, that's how many people will buy. I say that not only as the CEO of Activision [Publishing] but also as a gamer."
Hirshberg then issued a rallying call for the industry to stand together and ensure its longevity in the face of the rapid rise of mobile and social games. "This isn't politics," he said. "In order for one to win, the other doesn't have to lose. This is an entertainment industry, it's an innovation industry…but we're still young.
"We all still have a lot to prove. We still need to stand the test of time. We need to show we can withstand the kind of disruptive change and new competition that we're facing now.
"The only way to do that is to make great games. We shouldn't be tearing each other apart fighting for a bigger piece of the pie; we should all be focused on trying to grow a bigger pie."
All of which is fine, but these are easy things to say for the publisher of the most popular shooter in the world, a crown EA hopes to take with Battlefield 3 but cannot without cannibalising the Call Of Duty audience. Riccitiello presumably raised an eyebrow at Hirshberg saying Activision wants to grow the industry, when it is currently suing EA for $400 million for its alleged role in the departure of former Infinity Ward studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella.
Is Hirshberg right? Are these running battles between publishers promoting their biggest games of the year really bad for the industry, or merely an entertaining sideshow to consumers who, for the most part, already know which game they're buying? Let us know in the comments below.