Activision And EA Appear On "Most Overpaid CEOs" List

CEO paychecks under scrutiny.

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The non-profit advocacy group As You Sow has released its 2019 "Most Overpaid CEOs" report and it includes two notable companies from the games industry. Both Activision's Bobby Kotick and Electronic Arts' Andrew Wilson appeared on the top 100 list, which is intended to promote corporate responsibility.

The non-profit bases its estimates on a CEO's yearly earnings, based on a calculation that takes into account shareholder returns. Kotick appeared at number 45, with an annual pay of more than $28 million--which As You Sow estimates is overpaid by almost $13 million. Andrew Wilson barely appeared on the list at number 98, with salary of more than $35 million, or an excess of $19 million.

The median ratio between company CEO and median worker is 142:1. By comparison, Activision's was 301:1 and EA's was 371:1. The As You Sow list in general has a ratio of 300:1.

This report comes just after both companies shared their most recent fiscal results. Activision made headlines by boasting record profits while laying off hundreds of employees--roughly 8% of its workforce. Meanwhile EA posted a "difficult quarter" with games like Battlefield 5 underperforming expectations. EA's fortunes may be turning around, though, as Apex Legends surprised-launched to a huge reception.

Recently, stories of working conditions at high-profile developers like Rockstar, as well as Activision's mass layoffs, inspired the labor organization AFL-CIO to write an open letter to the games industry encouraging them to unionize. That letter explicitly mentioned both Kotick and Wilson.

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Avatar image for jenilya

CEOs focus on their shareholders, not their employees, that's how they make more money. It's basic business unfortunately.

Avatar image for Atzenkiller

Big surprise. Who would have thought that the CEO of a very big and very successful company would make more compared to his employees than those in smaller, less successful companies? But it's great that we can decide on whether someone makes too much or too little money purely based on comparisons.

Avatar image for Pyrosa

Too easy:

"make sequels"

"copy what those guys are doing"

"you're all fired"


Avatar image for Pupchu

Well... DUH!

Avatar image for jenovaschilld

Here is another little dirty secret behind CEO pay and corporations. You would think that a corporation like american steel or Industrial Fabrics Corporation, blah blah, would have the very best and brightest on staff- well they don't. As a matter of fact, very few of the major corporations in America have the higher degrees in any field. Because CEO or corporate tax is much less than the average worker with new cuts happening just last year - more and more of the very wealthy have family and friends in any kind of one of the dozens of ceo labeled tax bracket position in many corporation we know and some you may have never heard of.

For instance - your extremely wealthy but do not want to pay alot of taxes on both interest-able and nointerestable, income. Well you get a position in a company you own or have a vestment in, and you- your family, etc become one of the many new CEO titles COO, CFO, CO, INCO, etc of shit like public liaison - where you pretty much draw a salary in huge amounts through stock, cash etc. but only pay executive taxes,. It is another way of not having to pay real taxes like say the middle class does. And there are sometimes hundreds of these executive positions that no one actually shows up for or say for quarterly meetings.

Who actually then pays the taxes are the hourly workers, and states and federal workers of middle class brackets of 40%. Stuff like roads, schools, infrastructure, energy that during the pres Reagan years was 70%, under hoover 90%. Which at the highest tax brackets - where you make money off your money, and others money was still creating tycoons faster then any economy in the world. So you have rich peoples family given corporate positions of unknown duties to facilitate their income through stock, and earnings that is then funneled through a corporation whois lowest wage worker then bears the tax burden.

Nothing wrong in the accumulation of great wealth (everyone should do it), but when you use your wealth to keep or prevent anyone else from obtaining anything, is wrong.

Avatar image for bdrtfm

That's basically what all those microtransactions and dlc are paying for, the board of directors salaries.

Avatar image for Hagan

I bet the 800 people that Activision recently laid off don't even make half of what Kotick brings in. So instead of him taking a paycut 800 people had to lose their livelihood and jobs.

Avatar image for TrueLink

@Hagan: Considering the article states Activision has a 301:1 CEO to median employee salary ratio, I would be willing to guess those 800 people account for about 2.6x what Kotick brings in.

Avatar image for Richardthe3rd

@TrueLink: that's correct, actually. Median salary at activision/blizzard is around 90k, so Kotick makes as much as about 311 of his employees.

Avatar image for TazX14

It's funny, for all their pushing to get me to pre-order and buying at launch, their general attitude and recent poor releases have actually swayed me in the opposite direction. While I won't boycott a publisher outright, I do wait to see reviews and whether it releases with a full story and complete content when it comes to these publishers. Between burnt on Battlefront, Destiny, and constantly seeing all their terrible antics in the news, I'm actually way more cautious when it comes to EA and Activision.

Avatar image for xxmavr1kxx

Whatever CSX corp is their CEO makes over 150 million a year. What the actual ****.

Avatar image for olddadgamer

@xxmavr1kxx: Railroads or something?

It's like it's 1899!

Avatar image for Pyrosa

@olddadgamer: Steampunk IRL

Avatar image for zellwood

Both companies do this every year and most of those layoffs aren't even true Activision/EA employees. Most are brought in by a job service and way under paid due to that. These companies don't care about nothing but their own pockets and nothing about the people that put that money in them.

Avatar image for jagdedge124

Well, going to your last point about Apex and EA, Activision also posted record profits, and yet the mass layoffs. And i anticipate possibly the same at EA, when it comes to DICE and possibly Bioware given the Battlefronts, Battlefields, and now Anthem flops.

It's all about ridding studios and personnel that are losing money, and putting resources towards those who are making money.

I mean, could you imagine the shareholder reaction at the announcement of another DICE boondoggle that would ruin any momentum they may have?

Their sports titles are another issue, in that i can see them sacking NHL and NBA, and putting more resources into FIFA and Madden.

The fact is, of course CEO'S always get the gold cushion, and as long as they show the shareholders record profits, they will. At the same time however, you have to start cutting studios that aren't making very good quality games, and putting more quality and rescources to those who are selling at a better rate.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

It's rather pathetic.

Avatar image for Richardthe3rd

The real question is why shareholders arent asking questions about executive compensation, and why these larger numbers arent negatively affecting stock valuation.

Having an overpriced C-suite isnt good for business and it's time corporate America confronts that reality.

Avatar image for olddadgamer

@Richardthe3rd: Because most shareholders aren't normal everyday people. They're suit wearing investment bankers who run funds and all that, and are the last people on earth who want to set a precedent that suit wearing business folks DON'T make way too much money.

Folks in C-suites ain't gonna get rid of C-suites.

Avatar image for Richardthe3rd

@olddadgamer: to a point I agree. And I think shareholders only tolerate that when they feel they're "rewarding" performance.

It's a fuzzy situation though. Investors have to be sure compensation isnt enburdening the organization and that its producing results.

In the case of both EA and Activision they're facing a stint of low productivity/output and the cuts seem to be a blood sacrifice to preserve their own purses. Some of the cuts seem justified but I dont agree with the bonuses they're giving for missing expectations. That's horseshit.

Avatar image for caj1986

And there are people(gamers & non gamers) who defended & are ok with this while 800 ppl got sacked. This is whats wrong with today's gaming

Avatar image for REDShadowG

@caj1986: I hate Activision and EA as much as the next person but what you're failing to understand is that those 800 people weren't even developers, they were in marketing, esports and stuff like that. They got fired so that 800 actual developers can be hired, that's why you saw people defending what Activision did.

Sucks for those people still.

Avatar image for Hagan

so that's why they had to lay off 800 people.

Avatar image for dynamotnt

I just boycott them. I'm gutted that myazaki joined with chucklevision and I have to pay those knobs if I want sekiro.

Avatar image for UltimateBastard

@dynamotnt: didnt know that, won't stop me from buying the game but I'll also feel bad about it at the same time.

Avatar image for yosus

Fire Bobby Kotick!

Avatar image for Jinzo_111887

@yosus: You watch Jim Sterling, too?

Avatar image for yosus

@Jinzo_111887: yes!

Avatar image for TazX14


That was a good one! #FireBobbyKotick!

Avatar image for wrestlefanatic7

May these 2 companies go bankrupt.

Avatar image for olddadgamer

@wrestlefanatic7: As icky as it is, better that these companies change their ways. If the companies, as icky as they are, fold, then a whole lot of people who AREN'T overpaid get laid off. Bad enough 800 did.

Hurting 1000 people who did nothing wrong to hurt one greedy schmuck isn't the way to fix things.

Avatar image for R4gn4r0k

@wrestlefanatic7: What about the entire Top 100?

Avatar image for gamingdevil800

Honestly the yearly salaries they are getting could cover the development budget for a game instead.

Avatar image for m4a5

What!? Noooooooooooo.... /sarcasm