Activision Blizzard CEO Speaks on Corporate Culture

Yesterday, reports Gamespot, Activision Blizzard (ATVI) CEO Robert Kotick spoke at the Deutsche Bank Securities Technology Conference in San Francisco. During the 45-minute presentation he, apparently, discussed a range of issues including the timing of the next cycle of gaming consoles, the possibility of a console-less Guitar Hero future and, most interestingly (to us anyway) the “Culture of thrift” that he instills at the company.

Extracts of Mr. Kotick’s speech include:

  • His intent “to take all the fun out of making video games.”
  • Touting an employee incentive program that “really rewards profit and nothing else.”
  • Pride in instilling a culture of “skepticism, pessimism, and fear” of economic conditions.

While it is understandable, and to be expected, that a CEO of any company focus stringently on the bottom line, we do have to wonder what message this sends to those that create the games that we so enjoy. Already, a few noted game industry insiders have expressed their discontent with working in such an environment. It is worth noting that the Activision Blizzard merger is still in its infancy (or perhaps adolescent years depending on scale of measurement) and, as yet, it is difficult to quantify how this culture might influence Blizzard’s current and future creative efforts. Superficially at least, it does appear to be counter-intuitive with the culture of fun and awesome that we were shown during the Blizzcon ’09 Irvine, CA office tour. Mmmmm, not really seeing the thrift there.

It is, perhaps, relevant to note that Mr. Kotick was speaking at an investment-banking forum in which one would probably be well advised to speak of thrift and restraint given our current economic climate. Along those lines, Kotick also focused a significant amount of his time on discussing “mouth movement technology”. Given that he was talking to a bunch of bankers about one of their favorite topics, savings and thrift, we wonder to what degree he was simply providing a demonstration of the advancements in this emerging field. Mastery of which is, of course, another key trait of any successful CEO.

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5 Comments

Filed under Business News, Real Life Finance, WoW Community News

5 responses to “Activision Blizzard CEO Speaks on Corporate Culture

  1. Hinenuitepo

    I agree, I’d take this with a grain of salt, considering the audience.

    However, you make a good point that this ‘speech’ misses the point of the human element of any company, much less a gaming one.

    As a psychologist working for the Army, it can be challenging at times to convince leaders in this company that ‘a happy worker is a productive worker,’ but I have a job because somewhere (read: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) has agreed with the truth that if they don’t care for their people, they’ll quit, they’ll get sick, they’ll miss work, and they’ll be unproductive. In practice, I see this all the time when soldiers become very unhappy with their leaders.

    If Mr Kotick puts into practice what he’s preaching, it could be far more dangerous to Blizzard’s future than any competitor could ever be.

  2. Good article, thanks for highlighting it. I do wonder what it’d be like to CEO an entertainment company, when realistically, you’re investors don’t give a crap about the products per se, but their results.

  3. Wall

    I knew Activision would fuck Blizzard up in some way.

    On a more serious note, I’m not a business leader of any sort but I am a worker and while his idea of pushing the employees to their limits by cutting off the factors that make working fun may work in some industries, I really doubt it is all that useful in most industries especially the video game one. Blizzard is literally made up of gamers and taking the fun away from their work is like making a painter dislike painting; the strokes he makes might become more refined and constrained but the painting will lose all its touch of intimacy and personality.

    And that’s all a game has.

  4. Computers & Tech

    Hello there,
    Nice post, I just found it and I am already a fan.

  5. Pingback: Blizzard, Customer Service and Reasonable Expectations « WoWenomics

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