Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick denies that the publisher relies too heavily on exploiting existing franchises, saying most gamers prefer it that way.
Activision is the new EA, the story goes, and many gamers point the finger squarely at CEO Bobby Kotick as the reason. The man couldn't care less about games; he focuses solely on profits and keeping the shareholders happy. Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica went so far as to call him a "carpetbagger" earlier this year, citing the company's reliance on sequels and disinterest in games that cannot be easily franchised.
For his part, however, Kotick says people like sequels and that it's quite possible to break new ground within their boundaries. "A small segment of very vocal gamers say everything has to be new and different every year," he told The Economist. "Actually, people are happy with existing franchises, provided you innovate within them."
There's also no question he believes that companies need a committed, results-oriented focus if they're going to succeed and that's how he approaches Activision. "We needed a balance between people who would be creative and entrepreneurial, and people who knew processes," he continued. And despite what many gamers may think, part of that balance includes giving the creative types room to work. "In our business the key is that certain things lend themselves well to process, and certain things don't," he added.
Another thing that lends itself to success in the videogame business is ownership of World of Warcraft, the ridiculously lucrative MMOG that Activision acquired as part of the merger with Vivendi. Kotick said he'd had his eye on Blizzard's hit game because of the regular income it provides and even though Activision has published numerous popular game franchises in recent years, subscription income now accounts for more than half of Activision Blizzard's operating profit. As Kotick noted, "World of Warcraft is the most stable form of profitable revenue in the industry."