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.