According to Bobby Kotick, EA is structured completely wrong, and that’s why it isn’t number one.
Buying a studio and assimilating it into a larger corporate entity is the wrong way to go about making top quality games. That’s the view of Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, who says that his company is structured in exactly the opposite way.
Activision likes its studios to retain their personality and culture, Kotick said, and that a studio’s independent vision was what made them so successful. He said that apart from two exceptions, the people running a studio when Activision acquired it were still running it and the only thing that Activision added was a support structure to make the studio more successful and incentive schemes that rewarded success.
Kotick did acknowledge that EA was changing its policy, and was allowing studios like BioWare to retain their identities, but said that working to that model wasn’t in the company’s DNA. “You can’t be a floor wax and then decide that you’re going to become a dessert topping,” he said. “[EA] doesn’t know how to do it, as a culture or as a company, and it never has.” Kotick said that it was easy for Activision to recruit from EA, and that developers often only worked with EA because they had no other options.
EA has attracted complaints from former staff members, most recently from Sledgehammer Studios co-founder Glen Schofield, who lashed out at the publisher for the way he was treated when he was the general manager of EA’s Visceral Games . Of course, Activision has had staff upsets of its own, with the very high profile dismissal of Infinity Ward’s co-founders and the subsequent exodus of staff from the developer.