Activision CEO: “The goal [...] was to take all the fun out of making video games”


At a presentation at the Deutsche Bank Securities Technology Conference in San Francisco, Activision CEO Kotick had some choice quotes:

“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.”

If that sounds like it would create a corporate culture that isn’t all sunshine and hugs, then it’s “mission accomplished” for Kotick. The executive said that he has tried to instill into the company culture “skepticism, pessimism, and fear” of the global economic downturn, adding, “We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression.”

First, I don’t think he is doing anything morally wrong at all. It’s his job to make that business profitable. If the employess are working there by choice for their own self-interest, and consumers are voluntarily buying the games out of their own self-interest, and Kotick can grow the business, he is deliver great value and productivity to the world. He’s not curing cancer or ending world hunger, but it’s clearly a net positive and productive activity.

Secondly, I would bet against Activision’s success at this point. I’m skeptical of their ability to cultivate innovation and new hit games and their current hot franchises have finite life spans. Maybe they can acquire more hot franchises like Guitar Hero and excel at squeezing money out of them, but I would still bet against them. Most of the best quality and best selling games come from teams that love the work that they do, not from teams that work under constant fear and threat.

Finally, I find it absolute crazy that he said this. I know he’s speaking to a finance crowd and he probably loves his identity as an empire building tyrrant, but even as a purely self-interested profit-motivated move, management by fear typically yields low productivity. This kind of loud statement can also scare away quality recruits.


Written by: Darrin - Contributing Editor


  1. #1 by hobbes on September 15th, 2009

    why in the world would i ever buy another activision game? I think you need to have a list of all activision games, so we know which ones to not buy. sorry call of duty

  2. #2 by steffo on September 15th, 2009

    Im personally boycotting Activision as a whole for just being even worse than EA ever was.
    Jacking up prices, milking existing franchises whilst ditching all the smaller games and franchises, and just generally being unlikable.
    Most of this is probably Bobby Kotick, but since the merger they’ve just turned into money grabbing b*st*rds.

    Im not that fussed about CoD:MW2 or Guitar Hero anyway. Making it more expensive just because you can just makes me want to buy it less.

  3. #3 by Darrin on September 15th, 2009 [ 17143 Points ]

    I completely disagree with that boycott-mentality…

    Gamers should buy the products that they want, regardless of who makes them.

    I have zero interest in buying reskinned rehashed churned out sequels to Guitar Hero or Call of Duty. I *loved* Guitar Hero 1 and CoD 1 (on PC) and thought they were super innovative at the time, but the new sequels are just pointless retreads.

    Prototype, on the other hand, was actually good. If they can put out more stuff like that, and get talented devs like that to pump out quality products, they deserve the sales they get.

  4. #4 by steffo on September 15th, 2009

    I can see where you’re coming from, Darrin. Good games should be rewarded, but I haven’t seen anything from Activision that Im interested in for a while now.

    I might have got CoD:MW2, but the price hike has put me off and I can’t really afford it when I want to get all the other top games on PS3 this holiday.

    A good game from them would make me think again, but right now Kotick has annoyed me with all his BS that all the games from them I was on the fence about are gone.

  5. #5 by Jonaskin on September 15th, 2009

    Kotick is a nut job, and is completely responsible for the negative reputation Activision has among gamers now. I agree with the above poster, they’re worse than EA ever was. All that talk about ‘exploiting’ franchises and now this?

    If I didn’t love the COD games so much (the Infinity Ward ones at least, although W@W was OK) I don’t think I’d bother with any other Activision products. Guitar Hero has outstayed it’s welcome IMO, and although Tony Hawk Ride looks cool, I have my doubts.

  6. #6 by Legion on September 15th, 2009

    $60 for COD MW2 on PC? I’ll just DL the ****er. Screw multiplayer. I’m not paying $10 extra just because they feel they need more money in their pockets.

  7. #7 by bunnyhero on September 15th, 2009 [ 1850 Points ]

    did you see EA’s twitter reaction? pretty good :)

    http://twitter.com/EA/status/4014996193

  8. #8 by xBerserker on September 16th, 2009 [ 1102 Points ]

    lol, good find bunnyhero


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