Tag Archives: Activision Blizzard King

Microsoft Announces More Xbox Leadership Changes As Bobby Kotick departs

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is stepping down officially December 29th, The Verge reported.

Microsoft has not appointed a direct replacement and instead has rolled the suite of Activision Blizzard executives – including Blizzard president Mike Ybarra, Activision Publishing Rob Kostich, and Activision Blizzard vice chair Thomas Tippl – under Microsoft’s game content and studios president Matt Booty.

Kotick’s departure comes just two months after some big Xbox leadership changes that saw Sarah Bond promoted to Xbox president, leading all Xbox platform and hardware work, and Matt Booty promoted to president of game content and studios, including overseeing Bethesda and ZeniMax studios. Now Booty is getting even more game responsibilities with Bethesda, Activision Blizzard, and Xbox Game Studios all under his watch.

Microsoft is largely keeping the leadership team of Activision Blizzard in place, with some executive-level exceptions. Activision Blizzard chief communications officer Lulu Meservey will leave the company at the end of January. Humam Sakhnini (vice chairman, Blizzard and King) will also depart at the end of December. A number of Activision Blizzard executives will depart in March, too.

Brian Bulatao (chief administrative officer), Julie Hodges (chief people officer), Armin Zerza (chief financial officer), and Grant Dixton, (chief legal officer) are all reporting to Microsoft Gaming equivalents. While Thomas Tippl (vice chairman, Activision Blizzard) is reporting to Matt Booty for now, he will depart Microsoft in March alongside other Activision Blizzard executives.

Additionally, a memo from Matt Booty announced some of the changes taking place at ZeniMax and Bethesda, including that Jill Braff has been named the new head of those studios. Braff worked on the integration team when ZeniMax and Bethesda joined Xbox back in 2021 and will lead the studios’ development teams.

Bobby Kotick posted on Activision Blizzard newsroom: “Bobby Kotick: With Gratitude”

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick sent the following email to employees:

Extraordinary People,

Over the years, my passion for video games has often been attributed to Pitfall, River Raid, and Kaboom! I love those Atari 2600 games, but the game that first captured my imagination was Mystery House, developed by Roberta and Ken Williams. I played it on a borrowed Apple II night after night while in college at University of Michigan.

Mystery House was a text adventure with some primitive sprite-based graphics. (Fittingly, we now own Mystery House and the company that published it, Sierra On Line.) The world in which the game was played was left largely to the player’s imagination. I envisioned rich, vast worlds with all sorts of interactive, animated life that would enable players to fulfill their varied aspirations – all in a simulated universe that offered unlimited possibilities.

Forty years later, as my last day leading this company inches closer, I marvel at how far the talented people at our company have come toward realizing the great potential of games. You have transformed a hobbyist from of entertainment into the world’s most engaging medium. It has been the privilege of my lifetime to work alongside you as we broadened the appeal of video games…

In the email, Kotick mentions Phil Spencer, who has appreciated the magic of ABK for decades, and states: “As we move into our next exciting chapter, you could not be in better hands.”

In my opinion, people who have spent time enjoying Activision Blizzard King games are probably going to be pleased that Bobby Kotick is leaving the company.

Activision Blizzard King Joins Xbox

On Microsoft’s Xbox Wire, Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming wrote: “Welcoming the Legendary Teams At Activision Blizzard King to Team Xbox”. From the announcement:

We love gaming. We play games, create games, and know first-hand how much gaming means to all of us as individuals and collectively, as a community. And today, we officially welcome Activision Blizzard and their teams to Xbox.

They are the publishers of some of the most played and most beloved franchises in gaming history across console, PC, and mobile. From Pitfall to Call of Duty, World of Warcraft to Overwatch, Candy Crush Saga to Farm Heroes Saga, their studies have pushed the boundaries of gaming for players around the world.

I’ve long admired the work of Activision, Blizzard, and King, and the impact they’ve had on gaming, entertainment, and pop culture. Whether it was late nights spent playing the Diablo IV campaign with friends from start to finish, gathering the entire family in the rec room for our weekly Guitar Hero night, or going on an epic streak in Candy Crush, some of my most memorable gaming moments came from experiences their studios have created. It is incredible to welcome such legendary teams to Xbox.

As one team, we’ll learn, innovate and continue to deliver on our promise to bring the joy and community of gaming to more people. We’ll do this in a culture that strives to empower everyone to do their best work, where all people are welcome, and is centered on our ongoing commitment of Gaming for Everyone. We are intentional about inclusion in everything we do at Xbox – from our team to the products we make and the stories we tell, to the way our players interact and engage as a wider gaming community.

Together, we’ll create new worlds and stories, bring your favorite games to more places so more players can join in, and we’ll engage with and delight players in new, innovative ways in the places they love to play including mobile, cloud streaming, and more.

Players have always been at the center of everything we do. And as we grow, we’ll continue to keep players at the heart of it all. We’ll continue to listen to your feedback, build a community where you can be yourself, where developers can do their best work, and continue to make really fun games.

As promised, we will also continue to make more games available in more places – and that begins now by enabling cloud streaming providers and players to stream Activision Blizzard games in the European Economic Area, a commitment made to the European Commission.

Today we start the work to bring beloved Activision, Blizzard, and King franchises to Game Pass other platforms. We’ll share more about when you can expect to play in the coming months. We know you’re excited – and we are too.

For the millions of fans who love Activision, Blizzard and King games, we want you to know that. Today is a good day to play. You are the heart and soul of these franchises, and we are honored to have you as part of our community. Whether you play on Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, PC or mobile, you are welcome here – and will remain welcome, even if Xbox isn’t where you play your favorite franchise. Because when everyone plays, we all win.

We believe our news today will unlock a world of possibilities for more ways to play. Thank you for the ongoing support. We have so much more to come in the months ahead – I’m excited for the future and cannot wait to share it with you.

ArsTechnica reported that Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, emailed employees after news of Microsoft’s successful $69 billion acquisition to say he was “fully committed to helping with the transition” and that he would stay on as CEO through the end of 2023.

The Guardian reported that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is maintaining its opposition to the deal but has been unable to prevent Microsoft and Activision from completing it.

In my opinion, this is excellent news for all gamers who love Activision Blizzard King games! I think this announcement will make this year’s BlizzCon very exciting.

Epic Claims Google Paid $360M To Stop Activision From Launching App Store

Activision Blizzard and Riot Games at one point told Google they might launch their own mobile app stores, according to new documents filed in Epic’s antitrust lawsuit against the search giant. The details came to light as part of allegations about major deals signed with the two companies. The Verge reported that Google allegedly agreed to pay Activision about $360 million over three years and Riot about $30 million for a one-year deal.

According to The Verge, in one document Google exec Karen Aviram Beatty is reported back from a conversation with Activision Blizzard’s now-CFO Admin Zerza one month before the two companies signed the huge deal.

“If this deal falls through [Zerza] claims that they will launch their own mobile distribution platform (partnering with another “major mobile company” – presume Epic), double down with Amazon / Twitch (or MSFT) for Cloud / eSports [sic], and pull away from Stadia,” Beatty wrote.

Also according to The Verge: While Zerza may have just been doing hardline negotiating Activision has not yet launched its own app store on mobile, so it seems the company was happy with how the deal eventually turned out.

The Verge also reported about another document from an unnamed witness who may have been involved with “Project Hug,” Google’s program designed to incentivize and support Play Store developers. In the deposition, the witness says that Riot Games told Google it was considering launching a competing Android app store. Later, the witness says that “Riot and Activision Blizzard King were the ones that were the most direct with us” about considering starting their own app stores.

Engadget reported that the financial details of Project Hug – later known as the Apps and Games Velocity Program – are at the center of the ongoing antitrust lawsuit between Epic Games and Google. In 2020, the studio alleged Google had spent millions of dollars in incentives to keep big app developers on the Play Store.

According to Engadget, this week, a newly unreacted version of Epic’s complaint was made public, providing previously unknown details about the scope of the Apps and Games Velocity Program.

According to court documents, Engadget reported, Google also signed deals with Nintendo, Ubisoft, and Riot games. In the case of Riot, Google paid about $30 million to “stop” the League of Legends studio from pushing forward with its own “in-house ‘app store’ efforts,” Epic alleges.

“Programs like Project Hug provide incentives for developers to give benefits and early access to Google Play users who they release new or updated content; it does not prevent developers from creating competing app stores, as Epic falsely alleges,” a Google spokesperson told Engadget. “In fact, the program is proof that Google Play competes fairly with numerous rivals for developers, who have a number of choices for distributing their apps and digital content.”

To me, this feels like yet another round of lawsuits in which Google and Epic try to fight each other in court about something that they probably could have worked out together. This situation also explains why Activision Blizzard King doesn’t have much of a mobile game platform, outside of Candy Crush and Diablo Immortal.