Activision boss belittles Respawn, EA

CEO Bobby Kotick says "great people don't want to work for" Madden publisher, Jason West and Vince Zampella will struggle "being productive or successful ever again."

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has garnered a reputation for inflammatory commentary. Of the executive's more eyebrow-raising comments, he said last September that Activision strove to instill within its studios a culture defined by "skepticism and pessimism and fear." More recently, Kotick cavalierly dismissed such studios as Valve, Epic Games, and Insomniac Games by characterizing Activision partner Bungie as "the last remaining high-quality independent developer."

Today, the outspoken executive has returned to the sideshow stage, attacking the likes of publishing rival Electronic Arts and former Infinity Ward leaders Vince Zampella and Jason West as part of an interview with UK gaming magazine Edge. As related by Edge's online arm, Kotick proclaimed Activision's superiority over EA by calling out the Madden publisher's working conditions.

Bobby Kotick doubts whether West and Zampella can strike gold for a third time.

"The core principle of how we run the company is the exact opposite of EA," he said. "EA will buy a developer and then it will become 'EA Florida,' 'EA Vancouver,' 'EA New Jersey,' whatever. We always looked and said, 'You know what? What we like about a developer is that they have a culture, they have an independent vision and that's what makes them so successful.' We don't have an Activision anything--it's Treyarch, Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer."

Kotick went on to note that he does not believe EA has the capacity to transform itself into the city-state architecture outlined by CEO John Riccitiello in 2008. As a result, he believes talented developers regard EA as a last resort, which in turn compromises the quality of the publisher's products.

"[EA's] DNA isn't oriented towards that model--it doesn't know how to do it, as a culture or as a company, and it never has," he said. "Look, EA has a lot of resources, it's a big company that's been in business for a long time; maybe it'll figure it out eventually. But it's been struggling for a really long time. The most difficult challenge it faces today is great people don't really want to work there."

"It's like, if you have no other option, you might consider them," he continued. "The team that makes Madden is a really great team; it's been able to manage, capture and keep some good people. But we have no shortage of opportunity to recruit out of EA--that's their biggest challenge: Its stock options have no value. It's lost its way. And until it has success, and hits, and gets that enthusiasm back for the company, it's going to have a struggle getting really talented people, which is going to translate into less-than-great games."

Kotick also had some striking words for Jason West and Vince Zampella, which helmed Activision's prized Call of Duty studio Infinity Ward before being fired for "insubordination." Following their dismissal, the pair sued the company, and Activision promptly sued back, alleging they had been plotting to start a new studio with Electronic Arts. Within weeks, West and Zampella did just that, forming Respawn Entertainment.

As relayed by UK gaming news site CVG, Kotick said in the Edge interview that he felt betrayed by West and Zampella, whom he considered his friends. "It shook my belief in two specific people, who were my friends," he said. "The frustrating thing about that is, the stuff that these guys did, I never would have expected them to do. We're a public company, we've got ethics obligations, and the things they did were…I would go to jail if I did them."

Kotick went on to note that he was all too aware that his decision to fire West and Zampella, who also created EA's Medal of Honor franchise, would result in turmoil at Infinity Ward. "When we bought the company, they were 20 or 30 guys--these were guys that shared vacation homes together, they were all best friends, they were at each other's weddings," he said. "We knew that when we had to fire Jason and Vince we were going to lose a lot of really talented people.

He continued: "That's one of those really difficult decisions as the CEO of a company, where you step back and say, 'No good is going to come of this. They're going to leave and probably have a really hard time ever being productive or successful ever again, and we're going to lose some talented people, and there's nothing we can do about it.' And there wasn't."

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749 comments
JackHoleFace00
JackHoleFace00

And did I mention how flat-out PETTY and IMMATURE it is for the CEO of the world's largest publisher to belittle other developers? All while he contributes nothing except milking franchises dry? Such a pile of s***. If I see him at E3, I'm going to boo him.

JackHoleFace00
JackHoleFace00

Seriously, he's the biggest piece of s*** in the gaming industry. @LFSharpe , you're only sort of right. Granted, he's going for profits, but how long till he milks EVERY franchise dry. First, it was Guitar Hero. Next will probably be the COD series. Sure, big profits in the short term. But it kills long term innovation and success. Why do you think their stock has basically remained flat for years in SPITE of releasing some huge games? It's because people are wary of their long-term growth.

LFSharpe
LFSharpe

You guys can hate on him all you want (just like I do), but the fact remains that "us" gamers are still giving Activision millions upon millions each year. Kotick is doing what everyone in every company does - difference is, he's honest about it, he's not pretending to be anything else than a greedy ass. Or do you guys really think any multi-million dollar company out there gives a flying **** about consumers? This is capitalism - we chose it as an economic model, now we live with it. At least until people can one day actually put their money where their mouth is and stop buying crap from them.

oskuuu
oskuuu

eww... please no more pic's of Kotick's ugly face x(

Shinkada
Shinkada

@stEElyDaN909 At what point did I say that 'innovative' means changing your genre, or mixing genres and styles to cater to a multitude of audiences? I hate games that do either of them. There are a million things you can do with the RTS genre. Look at Supreme Commander's unique approach to massive scale, and its attempts to put more of an emphasis on positioning and group multitasking instead of unit vs unit rock paper scissors stuff and build order. Look at Dawn of War 2's attempts to do similar things in regards to limiting/removing build order to add more to actual battle strategy. Hell, use your imagination for a bit, think of the kind of things RTS' could do with new technology and lots of money. Ships duking it out while infantry fights on board. A war on a planet's surface while a specialist unit group launches into space to take out a superweapon. There are hundreds of tiny, new, or niche developers around who can make games using a combination of old ideas that everyone loved in an attempt to build a name for themselves. Blizzard has millions of people who will buy anything they make just because it's Blizzard, and they have the funding to do /anything they want/ and still turn huge profits. This is not the time to be saying "let's make Starcraft again with slightly upgraded graphics and a couple new units". It's the time to be saying "let's make radical changes to the genre in an attempt to evolve it."

theslimdavylp
theslimdavylp

The gloves are off! I'm glad he's talking crap. This will add extra motivation to the masterminds at Respawn to create something Epic :)

stEElyDaN909
stEElyDaN909

@Shinkada I would rather play a polished, well-tuned version of a familiar game than something that tries to be innovative but loses it's identity. Can you imagine what would happen if they changed Starcraft from an RTS to something that tried to be 'innovative'? The whole country of South Korea would be out for Blizzard's blood. The whole reason I picked up Starcraft 2 in the first place was because I liked the original. It took everything that made the original great and improved upon it. That's the game I want to play. I don't want to play some game that tries to be new by mixing different genres/styles together and tries to cater to many different people.

mrhagane
mrhagane

"The core principle of how we run the company is the exact opposite of EA," he said. "EA will buy a developer and then it will become 'EA Florida,' 'EA Vancouver,' 'EA New Jersey,' whatever. We always looked and said, 'You know what? What we like about a developer is that they have a culture, they have an independent vision and that's what makes them so successful.' We don't have an Activision anything--it's Treyarch, Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer." He LIE!!! ANYTHING THAT HE KNOWS THAT ACTIVISION IS THE BEST PLACE TO STEAL MORE MONEY THAN EA!! HE IS A LIAR!! LIAR!! AND LIAR!!

thedemon44
thedemon44

I do not like this guy. That is all I am going to say, anything else will become flaming.

meluvulongtime8
meluvulongtime8

I hate you Bobby, Activision, and your crap games. If only blizz hadn't joined your ranks I wouldn't be purchasing anymore of your titles. Is Diablo III going to broken up into 3 parts or have new reiterations every couple years or milk gamers for content blizz always gave out for free.

BigJohnWV
BigJohnWV

One jackass making fun of other jackasses, funny. Besides he's probably pissed because EA can make a more superior war game (Battlefield).

themidgethotel
themidgethotel

'No good is going to come of this. They're going to leave and probably have a really hard time ever being productive or successful ever again, and we're going to lose some talented people, and there's nothing we can do about it.' Oh wow, clearly no good has ever come out of anything in the games industry EVER that wasn't associated with and produced by Activision. Obviously no person has ever broken away from a subsidiary of a major publisher to form a successful company in the history of man. Blasphemy!

SteelTiger360
SteelTiger360

Hm...still early yet I cant wait to see what Respawn Entertainment brings out first, I actually support the two in the business ventures. I'm still not surprised Kotick would say such things though he's like the Video Gamer's Rush Limbaugh in a way ...loud, biased and uninspiring. (No offense to those who like this guy).

RadioactiveMah
RadioactiveMah

OMG, i cannot believe this dumb remain of a CEO actually attacked EA with those foul claims, he and his Activision is nothing compared to the giant EA, common, some of the best games ever are all from EA. u know...the little left respect i had for activision is not completely lost, and like some of the guys here, i will never buy any Activision game again, and u know what else now i love EA even more...nice work Mr. Kotex

XtremeDude09
XtremeDude09

Sorry, but EA bought Bioware, and they are still called that.

Mike_Labeckio
Mike_Labeckio

Polished not NEW (SC2). Just like Halo, C.O.D., BFBC, the list go's on. A polished rehash, is not something to boast about, when it comes with a pricetag that doesn't match their discription. Full-price for a rehash of it's predicessor, great buiness practice. Bobby is the CEO, his primary concern is the stockholders, not the gamers. To call him an idiot is foolish. Everything he says and does is calculated. He is trying to create a negative viewpoint in your minds to help fuel sales of Activisions products. It's working like a charm, look at MW2 sales figures, along with the DLC map packs. The numbers show that his tactics are working. You might publicly hate the guy, but everything he says is helping his company net big bucks. Most importantly the stockholders are very happy with his performance. I don't see Kotick letting up in his approach to subdue you subconscious, and convince you all other products are bland in comparison.

evmiller
evmiller

Putting on a little weight there Bobby!

fend_oblivion
fend_oblivion

When will silly Bobby learn to shut the hell up? All he is doing is defending his ego, not his company.

chaldoboy14
chaldoboy14

If I lost the top dogs from IW, I'd be pretty pissed off too. But then again if it wasn't for Kotick they probably wouldn't have left........I'm just saying. Also, is it just me, or is it that every time we see a pic of him, he just gets uglier and uglier?

BornGamer
BornGamer

If I looked like him I'd probably be a complete a-hole too. Nature can be cruel.

GSTom11
GSTom11

What a dick. I would pick EA over Activision any day (and I mean the main company, not Blizzard or Bungie).

Shinkada
Shinkada

@stEElyDaN909 'Polished' is just another word for 'nothing new'. SC2 had about as many new ideas as... Oh wait, everything else Blizzard has done in the last 5 years. I've never liked Blizzard, ever, but even by their usual standards, their new crap is useless. 'Polish' is not something you look for from a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars. They have enough money to make more than 'polished'.

BetardxFoosier
BetardxFoosier

@ Philly1UPer Steam is not a company, therefore, they do not "put out games." Valve does, however, sell games through their platform Steam.

THRRRPT
THRRRPT

Bobby Kotick is an ass... In other news: Water still Wet, Pope still Catholic.

PewPewNinja
PewPewNinja

@stEElyDaN909 Even if i don't like how "Shinkada" said it i have to agreed with him,Blizzard new game/expansion are not was it once was,ill agree with you that Starcraft 2 was well polished but for a,what 12 year wait it was not all that great,tbh it was just a new warcraft 3 with starcraft units.I don't expect alots of change in game like CoD/Halo/FF since there is a new one each year or so ,but for the wait (and the price) that was Starcraft 2,it was a bad surprise.

Beetroot502
Beetroot502

our $1 billion a quarter isn't enough. WE NEED MORE. WE NEED MORE. i think he's just butthurt about losing their best developers. instead of $1 billion a quarter they'll only make 750$ million. QQ Bobby, QQ.

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

lol....Steam puts out better games then Activision.

AlphaRed5
AlphaRed5

This guy fires the Guitar Hero head hanchos and EA takes them in and Rock Band is born, crippling Guitar Hero. Did Bobby learn? No. He fires these two (the frickin MOH creators), they join EA, and he thinks history won't repeat itself. This guy probably bathes in his urine.

Cillerboy
Cillerboy

the sad thing is that ppl buy stuff from this dick

GamingBoy2009
GamingBoy2009

He mentioned that EA has studios that are called EA Vancouver, EA LA, etc. Thats sort of unaccurate because EA LA has changed there name. Now they are Danger Close. So Im sure Respawn games wont become EA "fill in the blank"

DKant
DKant

What's with the hating on Valve? Is he jealous of Steam or something? Yeah that must be it :)

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

The only voice you have is your wallet. Pricks like him will continue to be in business until most of you understand this.

smwat
smwat

activions should be renamed "Moneyvison" all they care about is cash and not game quility. This idiots even stated that "If I could charge more for would of warcraft accounts I would." STOP BUYING THIER GAMES LET THEM FALL. I suggest if you buy activions games go to a used game store and buy them DONT GIVE THEM MONEY! they just demolish games that they are given.

N0tYrBeezin
N0tYrBeezin

I think Blizzard should put a human NPC named Kotic in WoW who keeps spilling nonsense and all the NPCs around him should keep doing the face palm animation.

katanajut
katanajut

That guy's picture is going to give me nightmares when I sleep at night.

stEElyDaN909
stEElyDaN909

@Shinkada I can't decide which I dislike more: greedy asshats like Mr. Kotick, or people who try to be intellectual snobs when it comes to entertainment. For being such a big company, Blizzard does a fine job managing it's games, much better than someone like Infinity Ward. Starcraft 2 was an incredibly polished game that was well worth the wait, even though it's far from perfect. I'm not a fanboy in any sense, but it does grind my gears when people rag on something popular just because it's popular.

evaneself
evaneself

I do not buy products with activations. Do not support this rentals.

Shinkada
Shinkada

@Kvon403 I agree. If a game is good enough, then you should just buy it. If it's that good then obviously the company is managing to stick to its creed despite any rubbish from, say, their sister company. But Blizzard don't make good games, and they haven't since SC1 and D2, which even then were overrated. "Breaking" my imagined "boycott" is hardly necessary when there's nothing good to tempt it for me. All's I was saying was that eventually, Activision-Blizzard's reputation will be shattered, and people will stop buying their games "just because it's Blizzard". Maybe they'll even think long enough to realize Blizzard's current games are awful, terrible, recycled garbage.

worthyofnote
worthyofnote

Dear Mr. Kotick, continue to smile and sling around insults and inflammatory comments as the true gamers that help fuel the industry and line your pockets, search out quality games over mass produced replicas that bring either or both no progress nor innovation to the gaming world. Sure, EA is no covenant of saints. But it's not necessary to slam on them because they publish studios that offer us great games. Be grateful for what success you have accomplished thus far, and move forward amicably. Or, become the failure you claim all your competitors to be.

Baked-Calbee
Baked-Calbee

The fact he was only able to name 3 company that was still under his control which clearly stated activision doenst have any more indie developer rdy to get buy out by EA. Ko"dick" also needs to understand that his company is doing well isnt base on his decision, he needs to make a statement and thx those guys at blizz with their huge success with games, and also The former IF guys that bought a billion dollar franchise and then got their ass fired, his company was doing well are all thx to those guys, not this clown

majin_lebeau
majin_lebeau

bioware would do great without ea by the way. They have more money to pump out more content but bioware was doing fine without them.

Stonecutters908
Stonecutters908

Hmmm....interesting. Incoherent and completely inaccurate but very interesting regardless. EA doesn't seem to have a problem cranking out hits. Isn't FIFA the highest selling sports game in the world? NHL 11 is going to outsell all of the other Hockey franchises. Madden was responsible for the gaming industry not having a completely disastrous May. Rock Band is better than Guitar Hero and is looking way ahead of anything else in music games with Rockband 3. BFBC2 has done really well considering MW2 was the direct competitor and no that team works for EA. Mass Effect, Star Wars KOTR, Dragon Age Origins, The Sims. Like them or not, these games were all did really well, critically and commercially. This guy is a CEO?

sapphire24
sapphire24

I hope something happens to Kotick that will get him kicked off as CEO. He's obviously the worst CEO in the history of gaming industry. Selling cutscenes of Starcraft 2 for $30 is one thing, but picking on a game company like EA, just makes gamers everywhere hate him even more that they want to tear him apart limb from limb.. Someone should just wipe that evil smile off his face...

mr_pink88
mr_pink88

I find it interesting that Bobby is very open about the fact that he feels games should be "exploited" on an annual basis. He actually uses that word, that's very negative towards his product. Hes going to have to find something new, before Call of Duty goes the way of the Guitar Hero.

spank_thru101
spank_thru101

What I want to know is with all the hate and inflammatory remarks this guy seems to accumulate from readers whenever he speaks, why in the world does Activisions PR think its best that he does speak out? I understand why people publish his words - its the same absurd reason that people publish the words of Paris Hilton - but again...please someone tell this man to be quiet and get back to business. The more he speaks the more he feels justified in his actions...and in certain a light he isn't.

XxChicagoTedXx
XxChicagoTedXx

bungie is the last good independent developer? How is Valve not?

Malscyllis
Malscyllis

Hmm, after reading just a few articles on this guy i truly don't understand how this guy can live with so much hate on him. P.S. Thank god the Halo IP wasn't given to him