Activision Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick is leaving next week

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Long-time Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick is leaving the company following its acquisition by Microsoft in October. Kotick will depart on 29th December, with Microsoft largely keeping the company’s core leadership intact outside of this.

In general the leadership teams across Activision Blizzard will remain in place and now report to Microsoft’s Matt Booty (President of Game Content and Studios). This means Rob Kostich (President, Activision Publishing), Mike Ybarra (President, Blizzard Entertainment) and Tjodolf Sommestad (President, King) will remain.

Thomas Tippl (vice chairman, Activision Blizzard), Brian Bulatao (Chief Administrative Officer), Julie Hodges (Chief People Officer), Grant Dixton (Chief Legal Officer) and Armin Zerza (Chief Financial Officer) will remain through transition months until March 2024, while Lulu Meservey (Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Communications Officer) will be leaving at the end of January and Humam Sakhnini (Vice Chairman, Blizzard and King) at the end of this month.

Elsewhere, Microsoft exec Jill Braff has been moved into the position of Head of ZeniMax/Bethesda studios following Pete Hines’ recent departure, so all creative leads within Bethesda’s group of studios will now report to her.

Kotick had become a much vilified figure within video game circles in the last few years in particular. On the business front, he has led Activision Blizzard to almost unparalleled success with the Call of Duty franchise, not to mention major hits with toys-to-life series Skylanders (before sensibly calling it quits ahead of the genre’s crash), Destiny in partnership with Bungie, and of course the ever-popular output of Blizzard – Activision and Blizzard merged together back in 2008.

However, there’s been strong criticism in the last few years on numerous levels. Activision’s game release portfolio has shrunk dramatically so that all of the collected studios have been absorbed into producing content for Call of Duty’s year’s games and seasonal updates, while Blizzard’s games have suffered from a string of unpopular decision by fans, whether that’s the shift from Overwatch to Overwatch 2, the strange decision to make a mobile Diablo game before Diablo 4, and some disappointing remasters, like WarCraft 3 Reforged.

Kotick also presided over the company when it was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing over allegations of sexual harassment, employment discrimination and retaliation against employees, with employees striking in response to the reports. He was also personally alleged to have been aware of the issues. Activision Blizzard has finally settled with the DFEH just this month to the tune of $54 million to cover pay and promotion inequities.

While the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft has been controversial and difficult to get past regulators, there has been a hope that a new parent company could given the collected studios a little bit of a break and more leeway. Will Call of Duty get to take a year off after the disappointment of Modern Warfare 3, or will Activision stick to sprinting on that treadmill of content creation? Will we see Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and other classic franchises given another chance?

Time will tell.

Source: Activision, The Verge

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1 Comment

  1. He’s the Darth Vader that never redeemed himself.

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