Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has a real knack for words: At a recent conference in San Francisco he said that one of his goals when he became head of the company was to “take all the fun out of making videogames.”
No, that’s not taken out of context. I’m as much a fan of attention-grabbing headlines as anyone but in this case, as is becoming his habit, Kotick merely said what he was thinking and, one must assume, meant what he said. In a speech to the Deutsche Bank Securities Technology Conference yesterday, Kotick talked about the future of the Guitar Hero franchise “untethered” from consoles and how technology has not yet reached the point where gamers can develop real emotional attachments to on-screen characters.
“I think what the untethered Guitar Hero does is equal the playing field a little more and give you some leverage with first parties when it comes to downloadable content and the business model,” he said when asked about a potential future in which the game wouldn’t require a console. He also suggested that at some point in the future gamers could have their Facebook profiles integrated into the game, allowing them to share songs and post high scores on their profile page.
But the real bomb dropped, from a gamer’s perspective at least, when he touted the company’s intense focus on the bottom line above all else, noting that the company’s employee incentive program “really rewards profit and nothing else.”
“We have a real culture of thrift,” he said. “The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games.”
And then, to ensure there was no confusion in his message, he added that he has tried to instill “skepticism, pessimism, and fear” of the economic downturn into the corporate culture at Activision. “We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Kotick has displayed a brazen disregard for what anyone aside from a handful of high-powered money men thinks of him and his antics at the top of the Activision pile (remember the “I’d raise prices even higher” thing?) but it looks to me like he’s slowly and methodically edging his way from “hard-ass CEO” to “that guy who’s on the cover of the Overlord 2 box.” And yet, under his watch Activision has grown to become the industry’s one true behemoth. So maybe he’s on to something. Maybe, at the end of the day, evil works.
Consider that your pleasant thought of the day.