Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has announced that he will be stepping down from his position on December 29. The news comes two months after Microsoft officially acquired the developer/publisher.
It was previously announced that Kotick would stay on as CEO through 2023 to ease the Microsoft/Activison transition, it was believed (unconfirmed) that he would step down on January 1, 2024. Days ago, this meant that Activision Blizzard would begin 2024 without Kotick for the first time in 30 years.
Microsoft has yet to name a Kotik replacement. According to this edgeSeveral other Activision executives will depart the company in March, including Blizzard’s vice president and King Humam Sakhnini and chief communications officer Lulu Meserve, who will leave in December and January, respectively.
For now, the remaining leadership at Activision Blizzard, such as vice chairman Thomas Tipple, Blizzard president Mike Ybarra and King president Tjodolf Somestad, will report to the recently restructured top brass at Microsoft Gaming, namely its game content and studios president Matt Booty.
Kotik sent the following Email to employees Addressing his upcoming departure:
Over the years, my passion for video games has been Pitfall!, River Ride and Kaboom!. I love those Atari 2600 games, but the game that first captured my imagination was Mystery House developed by Roberta and Ken Williams. I played it on a borrowed Apple II late at night while in college at the University of Michigan.
Mystery House was a text adventure with some primitive sprite-based graphics. (Appropriately, we now have Mystery House and the company that published it, Sierra Online.) The world in which the game is played is largely left to the player’s imagination. I envision rich, expansive worlds with all kinds of interactive, animated life that allow players to fulfill their diverse aspirations—all in a simulated universe that offers unlimited possibilities for challenge, connection, and fun.
Forty years later, as I inch this company closer to my last day, I wonder how far the talented people at our company have come toward realizing the great potential of games. You’ve turned a form of entertainment into the world’s most engaging medium. It will be the privilege of my lifetime to work with you as we expand the appeal of games.
Perhaps the most important part of my job is helping to bring together talented people, providing the best possible resources and fostering an environment that fosters inspiration, creativity and an unwavering commitment to excellence.
I cannot adequately express the pride I have for the people who continue to contribute to our success and all those who have helped lead this company over my 32 years.
We are now part of the most admired company in the world. That is not an accident.
Phil Spencer has admired the magic of ABK for decades. When he approached Brian and me two years ago and proposed acquiring the company, it was immediately clear that the combination of our businesses would enable us to advance as the list of capable, well-resourced competitors grew.
Phil shares our values and recognizes our talents. They are passionate about our games and the people who make them. They have bold ambitions.
As we move into our next exciting chapter, you couldn’t be in better hands.
I will always be grateful to the people who have contributed tirelessly to build this company, and I am confident that you will inspire joy and unite people through the power of play.
With gratitude and appreciation,
Kotick became CEO of Activision in 1991 and has led the company’s growth into one of the industry’s largest publishers. Most notably, he led the acquisition of Vivendi Games, which led to its merger with Blizzard in 2008. Despite the massive financial success he engineered for the company, Kotick has been criticized for oversaturating the market with popular franchises such as Call of Duty and Guitar. Hero. Most recently, he came under fire during Activision Blizzard’s sexual harassment/discrimination scandal that began in the summer of 2021, where he was accused of ignoring numerous employee harassment complaints over the years, leading many employees and fans to call for his resignation.
Activision is discussing the organizational changes shared in an email to Blizzard staff edgeXbox boss Phil Spencer had this to say about Kotick’s departure.
Under Bobby’s watch, Activision Blizzard has become an enduring pillar of video games in its many incarnations. Be it Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Candy Crush Saga or any other titles, their teams have created beloved franchises and entertained hundreds of millions of players for decades. I want to thank Bobby—for his invaluable contributions to this industry, his partnership in closing the Activision Blizzard acquisition and his collaboration in the immediate aftermath—and I wish him and his family the best in their next chapter.
What do you think of Bobby Kotick’s departure and what it means for Activision Avalanche going forward? Let us know in the comments.