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Kotick Tries to Clear the Air About His “Dark Side”

February 20, 2010Written by Max Murray

Everyone’s favorite CEO of Activision is in the spotlight again, but this time acknowledging his infamous media soundbites rather than adding to the list. Owning up to the fact that his words have hindered his image more than helped, he reluctantly compared himself to the Sith Lord…

Kotick stated that even though he’s always pictured himself as “the rebel flying the Millennium Falcon or the X-Wing fighter”, he woke up one day and was suddenly first in command aboard the Death Star.

This was during the 2010 DICE Summit in Las Vegas where Kotick’s speech featured less business-talk and instead a feeling of informality as he spoke of his past and tried to explain his previous remarks in hopes to win back the masses. In the past, one of his most scandalous remarks was his comment that 10 years ago his goal was to “take all the fun out of making video games”. He went on record, trying to smooth away some sore feelings by stating he knew he came across “as a dick”.

“Sometimes that commitment to excellence, well, you can come across as being like a dick. And when I say things like ‘taking the fun out of making video games,’ it was a line that has been often-quoted lately, but it was a line I used for investors. It was mainly because i wanted to somehow come across in a humorous way that we were responsible, in the way we made our games in that it wasn’t some wild west, lack of process exercise and that we really did give some thought to the capital being used to provide a return of investment to shareholders. So I say things like ‘taking the fun out of video games’ knowing full well that all we’re actually trying to do is keep the fun in the process because, as most of you know, when you’re getting into crunch time it becomes really difficult to meet those milestones or get things polished the way you would like, that isn’t a lot of fun. That is not what I meant by it.”

Kotick also talked in more depth about his mistakes by straying from passionate game developers and relying more on the business aspect of new titles. This was specifically addressed towards acquiring Guitar Hero, and Activision’s choice to ignore Harmonix in lieu of their own studio, Neversoft.

Later, Kotick commented on his past and how he played video games in the 80’s, but with his “addictive personality”, it wouldn’t end well:

“If I was regularly playing Modern Warfare 2 I would not be able to stop, and it would be at the expense of all my other responsibilities.”

Well could this be the desperately needed turning point for Robert Kotick? Maybe he hired a new publicist to help him change his public persona, or a chip implanted in his brain to replace the ‘speech filter’ section that wandered off…But given his whole slew of past mistakes, this single step up to the podium is probably not going to be enough to clear his name in the minds of the many he has irritated.

Can’t seem to remember said mistakes? Here’s a rundown:

  • How about the time he stated if it were up to him, he would raise game prices, even after his company jacked up the price on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on PC and in other countries. This was enough for previous Activision fans to start a boycott, and get him some negative reactions from other industry professionals
  • Then there’s the unforgettable incident of Kotick demanding for a price cut on the PS3, and alluding that Activision would ‘have to’ stop developing content for the PS3 if Sony wouldn’t lower the system’s retail price. Simultaneously though, his company was marketing four high profile games, each anywhere from $119.99 and up – living up to his name as Kotick-ocrite.
  • And most recently, he commented that all of his own companies past Spider-man titles have “sucked”.  Harsh criticism, especially towards the people he simultaneously praises as champions among the field.

So what do you think … forgive and forget?