On Activision/Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick…

“We have a real culture of thrift. The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games.”

While dilligence is a parent that breeds success, I believe that in the case of this man it will ensure that the future of video games will be controlled by his company and no one else. If Robert feels that the idea of “fun” is something seperate from your day-to-day job life, I can conclude with a degree of certainty that he must have been raised by the same gruesome individuals who raised Conan the Barbarian. But I’m not really surprised Mr. Kotick has gone on to become the president of one of the largest video game publishers in the world. Living by said standard, he was probably the guy in business school who stayed up late at night memorizing pages from his corporate finance textbook because he had nothing better to do. Sure, he wasn’t the most appreciated guy in class, but damnit if he wasn’t the most driven.

Still, how can people enjoy working for this man? His tyrade of “skepticism, pessimism, and fear” in San Francisco seemed to be less of a commentary on the state of Activision/Blizzard’s position in the gaming market, and more of a declaration of presumed victory, claiming that A/B is too good for consoles and will move on to dominate market avenues where video games don’t even exist yet. Robert Kotick may not want to trifle with the emotionally fulfilling aspects of video game production, but is it really a good idea to enforce such doggedness to those on your payroll? Must all of his employees have the same complete dedication to profits and percentages like he does, all the while never smiling or showing any ounce of happiness about their work?

Of course, let us remind ourselves that he is the CEO of a publisher, not a designer—the important distinction being that his focus isn’t about how the game is created, but how it sells. In that sense, he succeeds famously with all of Blizzard’s upcoming sequels. I suppose the designer equivalent of Kotick would be Gabe Newell of Valve, but at least he’s intent on making a damn good game not because it’s the smart thing to do, but because he’s dedicated. Carry on Mr. Newell.

Tyrant, Iron-fisted, a modern-day succubus of the gaming industry, call Kotick what you will, but it doesn’t overshadow the fact that his philosophy works—and pretty damn well too. He, not unlike Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, aren’t out to please their fans or strike deals with employees so everyone is happy; they’re out to run a business and make money. Reality has proven time and time again that harmony isn’t always the answer to some of the bigger problems, and in some cases it’s better off not even bothered with. Robert, whether the gaming community wants to accept it or not, has a set of principles that have been working for more than a decade and he’s a no-nonsense type of boss. The combined result of those two facts leaves us with a ever-expanding video game publisher that may never be stopped—for better or for worse.

See you in the next level,

Gray

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One thought on “On Activision/Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick…

  1. There is obviously a lot to learn. There are some good points here.

    Robert Shumake

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