Some gamers might believe that Activision is the evil empire, but Activision doesn't feel that way about itself at all.
Reading internet forums can give you the general idea that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick is Emperor Palpatine and Activision is his evil Empire. According to Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg, or Darth Vader if you will, all of that hate is misdirected and not based in reality.
If gamers aren't happy with how Activision manages its portfolio, Hirshberg apologetically told IndustryGamers that certain "tough decisions" just have to be made. "Sometimes, really talented people get caught up in those, unfortunately," he said. You could relate this to Activision's lawsuit over Brutal Legend, which Bobby Kotick once explained was just about business.
Hirshberg says that managing Activision's "slate" is a very challenging process. Laying off staff and closing studios isn't done because Activision wants to, but because videogames are a "tough business" and a "high stakes game." Activision never takes firings "lightly," Hirshberg affirms, saying: "I want to make sure that comes across, because it really is true. We don't ever make those kinds of decisions in a cavalier fashion, I can assure you of that."
Much of Activision's current reputation is likely related to the situation that saw Infinity Ward's heads ousted from the company. Hirshberg points out that there's two sides to every story, and believes "there's definitely some disconnect between the perception and the reality." He likens the hate to that once foisted upon the PlayStation 3 when it was released, hate that Kevin Butler, and a few price drops, have been able to dissipate. Hirshberg says it's a positive thing to have a core fanbase out there to keep companies like Activision honest, but hopes that it'll be possible to patch up the damaged relationship his company has with these gamers.
It's tough to judge the decisions of a huge company like Activision from the outside, without staring at financial reports and budget figures like its executives do. If you think about it, Activision really could be siphoning more money off of gamers than it is, primarily by participating in Project $10 and the like with its Call of Duty series. Bobby Kotick himself said that he'd love create a new Call of Duty revenue stream of some sort, but Activision has adamantly stated multiple times that the game will never have subscription fees. If Activision were truly run by Palpatine and Vader, I guarantee subscription fees would be attached to the series right away, and you'd pay because of their Force persuasion.