Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Caveat emptor

Last week, Activision, makers of Guitar Hero and Call of Duty, purchased King Digital Entertainment, makers of Candy Crush, for 5.9 billion dollars.

I'm thinking this confectionary-themed arcade game is not only addictive but causes serious cavities. In the skull.

Full disclosure: I am not a gamer. Never have been. Never will be. Don't have the slightest interest in even knowing what Candy Crush is all about. I'm assuming it's about crushing candy, but that's all the valuable real estate in my brain that I'm willing to give up.

Moreover, I don't know a single soul that plays Candy Crush.

Or would be willing to admit they do.

Maybe that's a function of my particular West Los Angeles demographic: College-educated Affluent Influencers, 24-44, with many annoying affectations, unfounded beliefs in homeopathic alternative medicines and a wholly unscientific obsession with the retrograde position of Mercury in the celestial skies.

And while they're far too sophisticated for childish video games, I must deduce that millions upon millions of people in the hinterland are not. In fact, for 5.9 billion dollars, I have to assume there are entire states, like Iowa, Missouri and North Dakota, whose entire population are doing nothing but playing Candy Crush, morning, noon and night.

"Nurse, hand me the Watkin's forceps and clamp the anterior vein."

"Not now doctor. If I crush the lemon sucker I can reach Level 38."

Clearly, the folks at Activision possess a great deal more business acumen than I do. And considering how they boned me in 2007, it would be all too natural to bear a grudge against these folks.

But I don't.
I'm simply calling into question the wisdom of spending 5.9 billion dollars on a well choreographed arrangement of pixels.

I'm sure they've done their homework and know that the Candy Crush crush will soon fade away. Consequently they're counting on the genii at King Digital to craft the next masturbatory big phenomena.

That's where I come in.
And maybe you.

I don't want to sound immodest, but I've had a fair amount of success in many genres. I've created ad campaigns, written movies, TV shows, a magazine parody, a blog, a couple of niche Tumblrs, and authored two books. I don't know if I've mentioned it but one of the books, Round Seventeen &1/2: the Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Inefficient is currently in stock and available on Amazon for just $12.95.

How hard, I have to ask myself, can it be for a well-versed 44 year old freelance copywriter to come up with a video game? Not hard. And not so expensive either.

For an initial sign on fee of $10 million dollars I will put into place the apparatus needed to get the ball rolling.

I'll take a modest salary of $25 million.

I'll build out some space in Playa Vista with offices (no SuperDesks), hardware, software and colored Post It Notes, the obligatory pool and ping pong table, and even some Keurig machines, for another $25 mill. Ballpark.

I'll leverage my relationships with other outstanding creative people -- writers, art directors, storyboard artists, UX designers -- and put them on the payroll. A lot of these people work in ad agencies and would sell their grandmothers to get out. 100 creatives? Pfffft, I can get them for $479, 381. Roughly.

We'll throw in another $50 million for setbacks, revisions and do-overs.

Total cost to Activision -- $100 million and change. I'm no whiz at math and neither are the folks at Activision, but that's the whole shebang, kit and caboodle, soup to nuts, for about 1.6% of the original $5.9 billion.

Hold the phone, there it is, an idea for the next big video game -- Soup To Nuts.

Pencils down.

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