Activision Publishing CEO Griffith steps down

Previously reported management reshuffle now official as executive segues into role as Activision Blizzard vice chairman; move happened four days before Infinity Ward employee lawsuit.

by

Yesterday, a Securities and Exchange Commission filing revealed that Activision Publishing president and CEO Michael Griffith has resigned. The timing made the move appear to be related to yesterday's dramatic lawsuit by 38 current and former employees of Infinity Ward, the studio behind Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

The suit claims Activision withheld $75 million to $125 million of bonuses and royalties due to developers from an alleged $900 million in profits Activision made from the first-person shooter. It demands a further $75 million to $500 million in punitive damages, bringing the total damages to $150 million to $625 million.

Former Activision Publishing president and CEO and newly installed Activision Blizzard vice chairman Mike Griffith.

However, Griffith's resignation actually occurred on April 23, four days before the Infinity Ward employee lawsuit. Moreover, it was first reported in the Los Angeles Times in March, when Activision Blizzard quietly restructured its entire organization.

The paper then revealed that Griffith was moving on to become vice chairman of Activision Blizzard's board and would remain an adviser to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick--a move confirmed by yesterday's filing. According to the SEC document, Griffith will now collect a base salary of $250,000, receive 50,000 stock options, and be eligible for a 50 percent annual bonus prorated for every year he serves on the board.

Other changes revealed by the Times included the promotion of CFO Thomas Tippl to temporary CEO of Activision Publishing and COO of Activision Blizzard. He will oversee Blizzard Entertainment president Mike Morhaime, who will continue to run the World of Warcraft maker, and Philip Earl, the head of the newly formed Call of Duty business unit.

Activision's restructuring established two new business units for wholly owned properties like Guitar Hero and licensed properties like the Marvel Comics and Transformer titles. Those will be run by vice president of owned properties Maria Stipp and Activision Value veteran Dave Oxford, respectively.

Discussion

58 comments
1337Frederick
1337Frederick

Has anyone noticed that most comments are argued in favor of developers? In reality it was infinity ward that produced hacks for their own games well ahead of sales in order to create illegal downloading. Not to mention the shoddy multiplayer without any dedicated server support?! Why would you buy a pc game without dedicated server support? Let me introduce evidence #1 in favor of Universal: http://www.callofdutyhacks.com/        This was obviously done by the developers leaking source on purpose to kill game sales, as you cannot hack source without namespace variable, even with a memory adress hook ; Example: what is worldposition called in order to create a aimbot? It could be called !2ssqrscasafd$%^& or any other random name throughout the entire code. In effect the only way to hack into the worldposition @ that point to create an aimbot would be to have the source open to you, which it is not at this time yet released as open source. get it?

 

Secondly, evidence #2: http://www.blogonerd.me/2012/03/alteriwnet-finally-shuts-down-community.html            This evidence clearly shows advanced cooperation with the netcode side of the game being purposefully leaked after consciously not adding dedicated server support into the game itself, which led to being able to download the demo version of mw2 and being able to play it online as the full version using the alteriwnet client, which led to illegal downloads, which in turn killed sales, which in turn killed infinity wards reward base and bonuses, which was done deliberately by infinity ward so that they could take a better deal with ea games after they had gotten all the free schooling and experience and advertising from the people who made them popular - infinity ward.

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

It was so much better when Activision was putting out hits like (the original 8-bit) Pitfall. It's no longer about the games to them; it's only about the money, and how many work hours they can squeeze out of a human being. The video game corporations need divestiture, now.

Migitman45
Migitman45

I CANT WAIT TILL THAT DAY WHEN ACTIVISION GETS SHUT DOWN!!

another_drew
another_drew

@nevryn maybe the confusion comes from the way you choose to write your comments. you try to make yourself appear more intelligent by using "intellectual" dialect, but all you are achieving is a more ignorant appeal. none of your past posts point toward any real argument, you only state facts for the sole purpose of stating facts. you make no attempt to prove one point or another, making your details moot. i do believe you simply post something in an article you are interested in, just so that you may have your face among the hundreds of others. as for clouding, i have seen the bungie deal and have also voiced my opinion on that matter. and before you jump to any conclusions it does not happen to be another AV is evil statement. it is simply an argument that bungie was foolish to sign a 10 year deal to a company facing two simultaenous lawsuits. also i do read your entire posts, and am still left wondering exactly what the hell your purpose in even commenting was.

nevryn
nevryn

@another_drew You apparently have some confusion about what constitutes a solid argument or rational decision. A good argument must be grounded in facts and information. My providing the labor law was done to provide such information, particularly for individuals who maybe hadn't thought to look up said information themselves. In reality, it was something that would have made the initial article better, but GS did not provide it (not that I blame them). As it was part of my own argument, I did provide it. As for glorifying, you don't seem to even read entire posts before you spout off. In that specific instance you mention, my argument actually falls on the side of the plaintiff (aka the people SUING AV), however, at the same time I can acknowledge that the law does seem to be vague and it will depend heavily on the judge's interpretation. Once again a good argument takes a stance, while still acknowledging the potential counter argument. Also, I never asked for recognition in any of my posts. In fact for the most part unless I receive a little comment mail in my box, I don't tend to revisit an article once I have made my statement. I merely present facts and arguments in the hope that people can use them to make rational decisions on their own, rather than ones entirely clouded by emotion. Most people are so angry that the IW guys got fired that it clouds everything else they read. For example, the new Bungie deal.

another_drew
another_drew

@nevryn Perhaps in your pure and absolute blindness to the obvious, you failed to recognize the other comments I have made regarding your "good journalism and rational thought." You only seem to glorify AV and all of their foolish behavior. You my good friend are the one who seems to be failing. All of your pointless babbling and rambling, including your citing the CA labor law, seems to justify no actual argument. You are the type of reader who will post something, anything, just for pure recognition. So if my attempt to point out the fanboy in you has been a failure, then failure two-fold on your part. SEE I CAN TALK GOODS TOO!

XEKazumi
XEKazumi

Nevryn makes a good point. He's not trying to defend what Activision has done. He's just criticizing Gamespot for casting this article in the wrong light. This is not a step down for Griffith. He now becomes part of Kotick's Sith Council and will vote "yea" to everything that Kotick does. Trying to make it sound like a non-IW person is leaving is just bad reporting, or a really bad spin. BTW, I think it's safe to assume now though that the new guy they put over Blizzard is gonna be more "lackey-ish" than Griffith, although Griffith did not have much to do as a part of his job over Blizzard, since Blizzard has only released WotLK since the merger.

nevryn
nevryn

@another_drew Actually it would be more accurate to say I'm a fan of Blizzard, which my Avatar was based on a company that greatly preceded the merger. I could in truth care less about the Activision half of the company. Looking through my collection, I have only played 2 pure AV games: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 & 2, and if I hadn't looked at the covers I wouldn't have even known they were AV. What I am a fanboy of is good journalism and rational thought that isn't tainted entirely by emotion. For example, when I read about the failure to comply with California Law to pay their bonus, I actually stated someone at AV dropped the ball on that one. Though after further research, it appeared the law is extremely vague on that subject, and while I still think the plaintiff has the upper hand, I acknowledge that the defendant may have a case. With a few notable exceptions where someone can make a rational unbiased argument, all I'll I've seen is people being like cattle following the herd. I actually love when people call others fanboys, all it means is "I can't come up with a rational argument to disagree with you, so, I'll just blame it on your being a fanboy." Congrats on your utter failure to insult me.

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

Activision, Kotick namely, is stupid as ****. How does he think sticking former executives on his board is going to look to investors? That is NOT a good sign in terms of the way this company is being ran. Having a pocket board of directors for the CEO does the company no good; he's likely getting a bunch of "yes" men to back his hand. And with recent events, the last thing that douche canoe needs is yes men.

Zenky1945
Zenky1945

This is the Twilight of Activision !

SolanOcard
SolanOcard

Nevryn. There is nothing biased in this article. the only problem, is who cares about this guy? And I have read alot of articles about the infinity ward debacle, and the reporting has been non biased. I think you are confusing the comments section with the article!

kintama88
kintama88

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

another_drew
another_drew

@Nevryn I have seen several of your posts these past couple of days all in the news regarding Activision. Also judging by your avatar I can safely assume that you my friend are an AV fanboy.

Pete5506
Pete5506

Everything is falling apart

crqos007
crqos007

lets boycott modern warfare 3 when it comes out. who's with me? (unless its made by respawn which is highly unlikely)

Ghost_702
Ghost_702

$900 million...in profits. God-like.

nevryn
nevryn

@thorsen-ink Two problems with your statement. 1: Don't realize the futility of the article till after reading it. 2: My issue is not with the topic itself but with the way it's presented. You say it was meant to clear up a misunderstanding on the other sites, but it still manages to appear as an AV bashing article. The title and subtitle alone are misleading and potentially bias. GS used to be about solid reviews and previews with good information, but lately I feel like I have to wade through a sea of AV or EA or MS bashing that was written in an obviously biased fashion, before I find anything worthwhile. Did GS get bought out by Fox News or something when I wasn't looking?

Roger_Smith
Roger_Smith

"Griffith will now collect a base salary of $250,000, receive 50,000 stock options, and be eligible for a 50 percent annual bonus prorated for every year he serves on the board" Somewhere, a developer is crying.

Syrenz
Syrenz

Seriously was about to say the same thing as linkspetdragon

linkspetdragon
linkspetdragon

Who cares about this? Let's get back to some good Activision/IW/Respawn drama!

Reiken37
Reiken37

@electroban More like, "Bobby Kotick slain with Frostmourne, spending a painful life as an Abomination"

gamer082009
gamer082009

Ok, is it me or is everybody tired of hearing about Activision?

thetravman
thetravman

That's barely news. He just....moved? Yeah, ok.

Ghoulish_Visage
Ghoulish_Visage

So he's staying in the same company? Ah well, s*** sticks together.

sk8oridie44
sk8oridie44

This kind of stuff is bound to happen when a product breaks the world record sales in entertainment HISTORY! Ah, greed is one of the weakness of us humans. The fact that they exaggerate the weakness and make it worse is very idiotic.

lamprey263
lamprey263

Maybe Activision transferred Michael Griffith to this position since he might have information regarding MW2's revenues from PC sales which are usually kept secret, especially if they're distributed through services like Steam. This is relevant since part of this lawsuit deals with royalties owed and adequate compensation can't be determined without any knowledge of total revenues MW2 produced, which the publishing president might have knowledge of. Whoever replaces Michael Griffith may stall any inquiry into such figures if they're sought to participate in the lawsuit since they were not in the position to know of such figures since they weren't in position of publishing president at the time. If this was indeed their plan, and say it worked, it would be a lot cheaper to move him to the board than to pay out countless millions to the ex-IW employees, so I see an incentive for the company to take this approach.

electroban
electroban

I think everyone is hoping for the same News Topic: Bobby Kotick has committed suicide.

thorsen-ink
thorsen-ink

@Vishant Yeah I am not worried about his kids going hungry

thorsen-ink
thorsen-ink

@nevryn The reason we put this up is because many outlets were making it sound like his resignation was due to the IW employee lawsuit. We wanted to set the record straight. If you don't care about it, don't read about it.

bish77889
bish77889

"The paper then revealed that Griffith was moving on to become vice chairman of Activision Blizzard's board and would remain an adviser to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick" Good thing I quit WoW 6months ago,cause Blizzard is next to get screwed it seems.

aaronfhff123
aaronfhff123

I also hope MW3 has a LONGER campaign! The 3 acts in MW2 was a total TEASE and not a full length game AT ALL regardless of what you IW MW2 fanboys say!

aaronfhff123
aaronfhff123

I just hope Modern Warfare 3 has gore and bullet wounds. It was hard going from W@W painting people red with bullets and blowng off limbs and than playing MW2 and seeing no marks on your enemies bodies and no legs getting blown off from explosives.

nevryn
nevryn

Pretty poor job Gamespot. This not only was old news, you worded it poorly. The 'stepping down' was actually a desirable move for him. Less work and good pay. It's like you can't come up with anything interesting for today's news so let's throw up another story about Evil Activision just so people pay attention. Whatever happened to doing reviews and previews and actually providing us with news we care about?

coruscant
coruscant

I wonder if Kotick will give him his bonuses, or withhold them pending investigation into 'insubordination' lol

Vishant
Vishant

@thorsen-ink, probably not as basic salary but factor in those stock options and potential success derived from both companies, he'll be 'surviving the economic down-turn' ;)

Vishant
Vishant

@thorsen-ink, probably not as basic salary but factor in those stock options and potential success derived from both companies, he'll be 'surviving the economic down-turn' ;)

DarkZxion
DarkZxion

"Griffith will now collect a base salary of $250,000." There is no way that this guy deserves to be paid that amount of money. I'm thinking maybe he should be paid $50,000, and that's being generous.

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

Bobby Kotick and the band reshuffling the deck chairs while the SS Actiblizz hits the iceberg...too bad the ex-Infinityward employees already took most of the life rafts.

monson21502
monson21502

those kind of jobs you can work one year and be set for life. excuse me while i cry him a river

thorsen-ink
thorsen-ink

@SavageEvil @Vishant You're both right. He quit as head of activision publishing, but is now on the board of ActiBlizz. He still makes a ton of money, but probably not as much as he did before.

Vishant
Vishant

This guy left his job with one company to join the board of the joint company. He's still with Activision, just in a higher position and (probably) more money and bonuses.

SrgtSaggy101
SrgtSaggy101

I just hope they dont screw up blizzard. I would hate them to no end.

SavageEvil
SavageEvil

If I'm reading this story correctly, this guy resigned as CEO of Publishing for Activision and was appointed VC of Activision Blizzard board. He's still with the company from what I'm reading, then again my reading isn't as good as it used to be.

OXM-Madman
OXM-Madman

I hate to sound like the crazy fat guy in his basement, but there must be some sort of conspiracy going on within Activision. First the two guys from Infinity Ward are fired, then like 30 others leave and follow suit. Now the VP left a few days before they got fired? A bit too convenient, don't you think?

FarmFreshDX
FarmFreshDX

Seems to me that everyone at Activision needs to be replaced, so I'm glad to hear at least one is. Now let's knock Kotick of his high horse.