Bobby Kotick is the CEO of Activision Blizzard, which Microsoft is acquiring in a $68.7 billion deal. According to Kotick, over the years he’s had discussions with Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella as well as Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Games, about the benefits of merging the two companies.
In a recent interview, Bobby Kotick mentioned that there’s more competition than ever for games as more platforms for content creators become available, which was a significant consideration in the takeover. “It’s a reality that started to factor into our thinking,” he says. “There’s more competition from bigger companies with more resources. Facebook is spending [billions] a year on the metaverse. I’ve never seen as much competition, and we’re seeing it even in wage inflation. Whether it’s Riot, Tencent, Epic, Sony, or EA [Sports], there are just so many different places [where] people are recruiting talent. Then you look at the specialized skills, like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning or computer graphics. You’ve got Nvidia and all of those big companies recruiting the best AI and computer graphics talent. We realized the pipeline for talent — we just didn’t have it. And we needed to have access to somebody’s pipeline of talent. That was a big consideration.”
But for now, Kotick insists that his “focus is just staying CEO and running the business” because the deal is a long way from being finalized. “I’m still going to be first focused on running the business,” he reiterates. “What I told Microsoft is that I care so much about this company, that whatever role they want me to have in making sure we integrate the business and we get a proper and smooth transition, I’m willing to do. However much time that takes, if it’s a month after the close, if it’s a year after that, I just care that the transition goes well.”
Is Bobby Kotick’s Activision Blizzard a Big Fish in a Small Pond?
According to Kotick, the general belief is that Blizzard Activision is a giant company with endless resources at its disposal, which isn’t accurate. “When you’re comparing Activision Blizzard to $2 trillion companies and $500 billion companies, you realize we may have been a big company in video gaming, but now, when you look at the landscape of who the competitors are, it’s a different world today than ever before,” explains Kotick, who also hinted that Microsoft may have not been the only company knocking on Activision’s door recently. “Even if we were to have consolidated within EA [Sports], that wouldn’t have given us what we’re going to need going forward. And so you needed to have a big partner to be able to make it work.”
Are Microsoft and Activision Blizzard Focused on the Metaverse?
Bobby Kotick says that he and Microsoft Games CEO Phil Spencer have always seen eye to eye about the metaverse. “What really is the metaverse?” asks Kotick. “It’s not like [speculative fiction writer] Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash vision. It’s the evolutionary vision of a collection of players.”
Kotick believes players will be the metaverse’s defining characteristic. “It is an evolutionary vision of a collection of players,” he says. “I think players are going to be the defining characteristic of the metaverse,” he says. “It’s a community of players anchored in a franchise. And then those communities are anchored in some bigger virtual experience that allows you to have either access to your friends or access to other content. I think you’re going to see a big part of it is going to be content creation tools. That is going to allow for user-generated content that can be either free or commercially exploited, and that’s going to be an important part of what a metaverse will be.”