Activision Blizzard CEO, Bobby Kotick, has agreed to a contract extension that cuts his base salary in half. The information comes from an SEC filing submitted on April 28th. There are many numbers to go over in this new deal, but overall, Kotick will be paid less, the board has more control over his bonuses, and he will stay on until March 2023.
First, Bobby Kotick will reduce his 2020 base salary by 15% and future base salary by 50%. That is going from $1,750,000 to $875,000, according to Wowhead.com. His maximum bonus will also get a 50% cut and will be determined by “company performance factors.” Kotick’s new maximum pay (200% of new base salary) brings him in line with other CEOs in similar companies.
In the SEC filing, the board was sure to tout Bobby Kotick’s 30-year career. They explain his successes and ability to redeem the company from near collapse. But players see Bobby’s performance in a different light.
As a long-time Blizzard fan, I was worried the day Blizzard and Activision had merged. The deal was engineered by Bobby Kotick, and he became CEO of the new company. Even then it was well known that Activision was more worried about quantity over quality; which directly opposed the Blizzard way of life. Activision released a new Call of Duty every year, balancing multiple development teams. A common philosophy was to wait and buy every other CoD to get the game made by the developers you liked. For example: CoD 2 was by Infinity Ward and has an 82 Metacritic user score. Cod 3 was made by Treyarch with a 6.6 score. This was a simplification of a complex development process but still worried Blizzard players.
After the merger, Blizzard stepped up production of Project Titan, Later called Overwatch. They attempted to increase WoW expansion releases to a yearly schedule, resulting in the abysmal Warlord of Draenor expansion. Two years after Bobby, WoW introduced their first cash shop mount. The cash shop is now a staple of the 17-year-old game. Blizzard culture had changed forever, thanks to Bobby Kotick. This developer-friendly environment was becoming a profit-first machine, and the stress fell on the employees.
Developers at Blizzard have recently complained to reporters of lower than average pay and “crunch” culture. Kotaku and Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier exposed the story, and Activision Blizzard was forced to act. They began modifying employee pay in 2020. The other headline grabber is the many layoffs the company has issued over the past few years. These usually accompany stories of recent Bobby Kotick bonuses. Bobby is profitable, but a PR problem.
Bobby Kotick’s new salary cuts are likely a sign of Activision Blizzard’s board realizing their bad image mounting. I tend to be optimistic when it comes to Blizzard. Bobby will never be generous but it’s promising that the company is reflecting on its image. It is a selfish motivation, but the results could be better treatment of their employees. Only through a vocal player base will Activision Blizzard return to the culture we fell in love with, and Bobby Kotick will be paid responsibly.
Do you feel Kotick’s new pay is a good sign for the company or just a PR stunt? Let us know in the comments below.