January 18, 2022 will be an important date in the history of video games because, unexpectedly and with great fanfare, Microsoft announced the purchase of Activision-Blizzard, one of the largest and most important companies in the industry, for $68.7 MDD. The figure is unprecedented and serves for the North American company to give a resounding blow on the table. Among all the questions about what will happen to studios, franchises and exclusivities, one appeals to the inevitable: what the hell will happen to Bobby Kotick? Well, the industry played its card and, although the controversial CEO seems to have his days numbered, he will leave the scene with all the financial glory possible.
Activision was never at risk, but there was potential for change for workers and the industry
Last year, and in the context of an escalation of reports and problems typical of the video game industry in its workplace, the scandal broke out at Activision-Blizzard related to situations of abuse, harassment and labor exploitation. The problem went around the world and became a drop that almost spilled a whole glass, because unlike other occasions, Activision-Blizzard workers publicly protested, a sector went on strike after the dismissals at Raven Software, and again account put on the table the issue of the need for a union of workers, a union that watches over the labor rights of those who make the video games that we enjoy and that guarantees that, at least, there are not hundreds of layoffs after the announcement of the new financial goals exceeded, nor threats due to their forms of organization.
Today is the third week in which employees across the company are striking in solidarity with Raven QA in response to surprise layoffs. Having had no response from our leadership, Raven QA sent the following letter earlier today. #WeAreRaven pic.twitter.com/e9AjbpuiJN
— ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) January 4, 2022
The scandal gained weight as Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, the media and the community joined the call to resolve the Activision-Blizzard situation soon. Yes, the idea that Bobby Kotick’s head would roll became a possibility, although it was never separated from the ideal of justice that, in the end, is crossed by different factors, more so as it is an industry giant capable of generating thousands of millions of dollars at the slightest provocation and worse still, backed by investors of all kinds… Come on, even state governments in the United States have pension money stuffed into Activision-Blizzard shares.
Bobby Kotick is an equally great and controversial industry executive. Let’s remember that he leaned on the idea of ”1 is good, but 1000 are better” and turned Activision-Blizzard and its iconic franchises, Call of Duty the most in recent years, in a money machine but also in a processed product resulting from a formula exploited to the limit to the extent that it seems that the only option for the company’s studios is to work in some way in the FPS or vanish.
That same Bobby Kotick was exposed by omission in the countless reports that refer to the unfortunate situations that took place in the company he leads, and was also singled out and accused of the same situation in an important twist but that, unfortunately, did not come to light.
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Saving Private Kotick
What happened? Although various members and sectors that make up the video game industry were waiting for the announcement that the board of directors of Activision-Blizzard would confirm the goodbye of Bobby Kotick, the chances of this happening were minimal due to a powerful reality: it is about the director general of a true commercial monster of the industry. Yes, that weighs enough to consider the impact of his fall, because if Kotick fell, anyone could do it and with so many things at stake, no one would take that risk, much less at a time when the complaints and testimonies refer to endless labor problems in the video game industry that lead to the same point —at least in the US—: guarantee the labor rights of workers through unions, because no matter how many changes are implemented, those who are not big and renowned managers continue to job uncertainty.
The months passed, and so did the pretexts to keep Kotick and the Activision-Blizzard board of directors. However, today was a normal day until Microsoft announced the purchase of the company. Still prior to the release of details, it was thought what would happen to the CEO, but it was finally confirmed that he will remain in his position during the transition phase, which is estimated to last until 2023.
No one doubts Microsoft’s ability to change and improve everything it controls, and it is almost certain that Activision-Blizzard workers will see major changes in their work environment, since it is no longer about Kotick, the board of directors and the investors. ; now the verticality reaches Phil Spencer and Satya Nadella, the most important faces and characters of Microsoft today. However, and although it is also almost a fact that Kotick’s days in the company are numbered, it is also certain that he will come out of this situation very well, with all the financial glory that his position deserves, according to Activision-Blizzard standards. . Bobby Kotick will get away with it, even if it’s by taking the road out the back door.
– Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) January 18, 2022
As we extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone, we are incredibly excited to welcome the fantastic teams and iconic franchises of Activision Blizzard to Team Xbox https://t.co/DVrgYS8ssB
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) January 18, 2022
In the end, Microsoft made an important decision for its business. In the capitalist world there is no place for anything else and, inadvertently (me being naive) or with all intentions (me being the devil’s advocate), he put his chest in front of a grenade that could explode at any moment. Microsoft and Xbox can give new life to Activision-Blizzard and its workers, and unless something extraordinary happens, the controversial Bobby Kotick will leave, as many wished, but the message that was needed today more than ever ended up drowned in thousands of millions of dollars.
Operation Saving Private Kotick was a success, over and out.