It’s pretty easy to pin the Bad Guy label on Bobby Kotick & co. over at Activision, and it’s mostly due to news like this. According to the Los Angeles Times, Activision managed to furtively go through significant amount of “restructuring” recently without having to bother with such minute details like informing investors or the general public.
I put “restructuring” in quotes because it’s not really so much as shifting around personnel and changing a few job descriptions so much as it is laying off 15 people despite Activision raking in millions upon millions of dollars each month from Blizzard’s World of Warcraft and the continuing billion dollar sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. However, the aforementioned bureaucratic shenanigans also took place, resulting in four separate divisions and fancy new job titles for all of the fortunately employed Activision executives.
While Blizzard will remain untouched for now and continue to operate under its own direction, one of each of the other three divisions will be dedicated the Call of Duty franchise, licensed titles like Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, and owned titles like the Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk series.
Quite possibly the most horrifying part is that with 15 salaries opened up, Thomas Tippl ostensibly got a raise with his promotion to chief operating officer, now the “only executive reporting directly to Kotick.” Not only does this mean that Activision saw fit to ruin 15 people’s days/lives, but they did it so as to reward the higher-ups. This also means that Kotick, self-admittedly a non-gamer, will be further removed from the people that do the actual work and actually know something about video games.
This can probably be most exemplified in a rather chilling quote from Activision spokesperson Maryanne Lataif: “we realigned our structure to better reflect our slate and marketing opportunities and direct our resources against the largest, most profitable business segments.”
We all pretty much knew already that Activision was all about making the big bucks and not about the games or the consumers (see the crash ‘n burn in progress involving the Guitar Hero and, arguably, the Tony Hawk franchises), but finally seeing it in an official statement from the company makes it also officially unnerving. With an entire quarter of a billion dollar company devoted to Call of Duty, will we actually see Activision expand the franchise to “new genres” as they had previously stated? Will we see CoD of War?