Bobby Kotick, the long-serving CEO of Activision Blizzard for the last 32 years, is officially stepping down on December 29 as part of an ongoing reorganization following the acquisition of the company by Microsoft.
In a note sent to employees and published on the Activision Blizzard newsroom, Kotick reflected on his long tenure running the publisher. Kotick has overseen Activision through over half of its lifespan, having become CEO just 12 years after its founding in 1979. He oversaw the company through numerous transformations, including the start and ultimate success of the Call of Duty franchise, the Guitar Hero era, the rise and fall of the toys-to-life genre, Activision’s merger with Vivendi to become Activision Blizzard and later acquisition of Candy Crush maker King, and ultimately the acquisition of all of it by Microsoft earlier this year.
Kotick also oversaw the company through a period of time called out by the state of California in a 2021 lawsuit as encompassing widespread gender discrimination and gender-based pay inequality. Among the numerous accusations levvied against the company regarding its treatment of women include claims that Kotick knew about the accusations “for years” but did not actively address them. Just this week, the California Civil Rights Department reached a $54 million settlement with Activision Blizzard over these claims, finding that “no court or any independent investigation has substantiated any allegations that: there has been systemic or widespread sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard,” or that Activision Blizzard’s board of directors including Kotick “acted improperly with regard to the handling of any instances of workplace misconduct.”
In addition, The Verge reports that Xbox head Phil Spencer announced Kotick’s departure to employees alongside a number of other organizational changes. While Kotick is not being directly replaced, Activision Blizzard vice chairman Thomas Tippl (who is departing the company in March), Activision publishing president Rob Kostich, Blizzard president Mike Ybarra, and King president Tjodolf Sommestad will all now report directly to Xbox game content and studios president Matt Booty. Additionally, controversial Activision Blizzard CCO Lulu Meservey will be leaving the company at the end of January. Meservy made waves almost immediately after her 2022 appointment by pushing back against ongoing collective bargaining attempts by Activision Blizzard employees, and was ultimately named in a labor complaint by the Communication Workers of America for her rhetoric. She has since been outspoken publicly about other matters, including Sony’s opposition to Xbox acquiring Activision Blizzard.
Every Video Game Franchise Xbox Owns After Acquiring Activision Blizzard
Other changes include the departure of Blizzard and King VP Humam Sakhnini, and the promotion of Jill Braff to head of ZeniMax and Bethesda studios.
In Spencer’s letter to employees about all these changes, he wrote:
For most of you, your day-to-day work will remain the same—it’s still business as usual in bringing more groundbreaking experiences to more players around the world. At the leadership level, these changes will provide the clarity and accountability that is necessary to achieve our ambitious goals and foster a culture that is welcoming, empowering, and committed to Gaming for Everyone. We have an exciting 2024 lineup of games across Activision, Bethesda, Blizzard, King and Xbox Game Studios, and I know that we all look forward to sharing more details with our player communities when the time is right.
This is the second significant reorganization announcement from Microsoft following the acquistion’s closure. In October, Microsoft promoted Matt Booty to hepresident of gaming content and studios, including overseeing Zenimax and Bethesda, and it promoted Sarah Bond to president of Xbox.
Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to [email protected].
Blogroll image credit: Loren Elliott/Getty Images