Bobby Kotick to Leave Activision

Bobby Kotick Likely to Leave Activision After Microsoft Deal is Complete

Current Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is reportedly set to leave the company after their acquisition by Microsoft is complete. Until the deal is completed, though, Kotick will remain in position despite the best efforts of the developer protests that called for his removal following allegations of misconduct and harassment at the company.

What happens next for Bobby Kotick?

Microsoft Gaming’s CEO Phil Spencer confirmed Kotick will “continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company’s culture and accelerate business growth”. After the deal is concluded, Activision Blizzard will then have to report to Spencer, but the deal is likely to take quite a while to reach that stage. In a letter to Activision Blizzard employees, Kotick said he didn’t expect the “necessary regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions” to be satisfied until sometime in the fiscal year that ends on June 30, 2023.

Once the deal is concluded, people with knowledge of the negotiations between the two companies say Kotick is expected to step down as CEO. According to the New York Times, there is a chance he could stay within the company in an advisory role. So far Kotick has declined to comment on what will happen after the deal closes, although Wall Street Journal reports Kotick told Microsoft he would “always be available to ensure that we are going to have the very best integration”.

Improving working conditions at Activision Blizzard

Kotick claims the deal has absolutely nothing to do with any of the discrimination, sexual harassment, and other misconduct allegations that have surrounded the company and its CEO over the past few months. However, Bloomberg has learned that this is exactly the reason Microsoft decided to approach Activision. They thought Kotick would be more willing to make a deal amidst the negative attention and additional pressure. Kotick was initally reluctant to sell and looked for other bidders but Activision’s board had other ideas.

At the end of last year, Spencer said Microsoft was evaluating their relationship with Activision Blizzard in lieu of the allegations. Both Spencer and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella have both vowed to help improve working conditions. In an earlier interview with New York Times, Spencer said:

Well, I think the first thing we need to be able to do is to have people feel like they can report and talk about what’s happening. That goes to, like I said, the safety for people. And I have more capability of that on my own team. But I’ll just say in general, having open lines of communication where people can report on their lived experience on our teams, it’s got to be so critical.

And to get there, it’s a cultural effort of how do you build that trust so people feel like when they whistle blow, when they raise their hand about topics that are going on, that they won’t face repercussions. Rather, they’ll see action. In terms of work that we do with other companies, again, I would rather help other companies than try to get into punishing. I don’t think my job is out there to punish other companies.

In the meantime, Activision Blizzard employees have vowed to continue with their walkouts until the company becomes a safer place at which to work.

There have been other consequences to today’s deal too. Any PlayStation exclusive content from Activision titles will likely end after Call of Duty: Vanguard. Despite the deal, though, Sony is still a larger company than Microsoft in terms of gaming revenue. You can have your say on the acquisition and what this might mean for Sony in our reader’s opinion, while you can also take a guess at which studio Sony might acquire next.