Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard, the maker of popular video games such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch, has announced that he will step down from his role on December 29, 2023. This comes after Microsoft completed its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard on October 13, 2023.
Announcement of Bobby Kotick’s Departure from Activision Blizzard
Kotick has been the CEO of Activision Blizzard since 1991 and has led the company through several successful acquisitions and expansions. He is also one of the highest-paid executives in the gaming industry, with a compensation package worth $390 million in 2022.
However, Kotick’s tenure at Activision Blizzard has also been marked by controversy and criticism. In July 2021, California sued Activision Blizzard for a culture of “constant sexual harassment” that included unwanted comments and physical touching of female employees by male employees. The lawsuit claimed that top executives were aware of or involved with the workplace issues.
Kotick denied the allegations and said he was unaware of many of them. He also apologized for employees not feeling comfortable reporting concerns. However, he faced backlash from employees who staged walkouts and petitions demanding his resignation. Some employees also accused him of being complicit in covering up or ignoring sexual misconduct cases at other companies where he worked before joining Activision Blizzard.
In October 2021, a Wall Street Journal report revealed that Kotick had received millions of dollars in stock awards from previous mergers and acquisitions that were not disclosed to shareholders or regulators. The report also suggested that Kotick had failed to inform or address the allegations made by employees at various companies where he worked.
Activision Blizzard said the report presented a “misleading view” of the company and its CEO. It also said it had conducted independent investigations into the allegations and found them to be untrue.
Leadership Changes at Activision Blizzard
Despite Kotick’s departure, some key names are expected to stay at Activision Blizzard after the Microsoft deal closes. These include:
- Jen Oneal, who is currently the chief people officer at Activision Blizzard. She will become the chief people officer at Microsoft Gaming.
- Mike Ybarra, who is currently the chief operating officer at Xbox. He will become the chief operating officer at Activision Blizzard.
- Tricia Goyer, who is currently a senior vice president at Lucasfilm. She will become a senior vice president at Microsoft Studios.
- Eric Hirshberg, who is currently a board member at Disney. He will become a board member at Microsoft Gaming.
Microsoft said it was impressed by Kotick’s leadership and vision for Activision Blizzard and that it would work closely with him to ensure a smooth transition for both companies.
Impact on the Gaming Industry
The departure of Kotick from Activision Blizzard could have significant implications for both companies and their future direction. Some possible effects are:
- Microsoft could face regulatory scrutiny over its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, especially if it raises antitrust concerns or national security issues in some markets.
- Microsoft could leverage its gaming expertise to enhance its cloud gaming service Xbox Game Pass, which offers access to hundreds of games for a monthly fee.
- Microsoft could integrate its gaming studios into its broader gaming ecosystem, which includes Xbox hardware, PC software, mobile devices, and social media platforms.
- Activision Blizzard could benefit from Microsoft’s resources to improve its financial performance, product quality, innovation potential, and employee morale.
- Activision Blizzard could face challenges in maintaining its identity as an independent game developer after being acquired by one of its biggest competitors.
The future direction of both companies will depend on how they manage their cultural differences, strategic goals, creative visions, and stakeholder expectations.