Bobby Kotick Voted To Stay CEO Another Year: What Does That Mean for the Future of Activision Blizzard Franchises?

During a virtual shareholder meeting on June 21, the board at Activision Blizzard voted to keep the company’s board of directors, including CEO Bobby Kotick, for another year. According to Kotick, what makes the company so successful? “Our audiences are the most dedicated, engaged fans. Unlike other media businesses, the investment made by our audiences allows us to celebrate their successes, reward their investment, and the communities that are created provide tens of millions of players with a unique sense of belonging. No other entertainment experience can provide that.”

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick Talks About the Company’s Famous Franchises 

“Great franchises provide great road maps for innovation and inspiration. Star Trek and Star Wars are great examples of sustainable entertainment franchises,” Kotick told Forbes. “Call of Duty is one of the most enduring franchises in entertainment. The NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball are perpetual entertainment experiences and probably the most similar to the experiences we deliver.”

Bobby Kotick explained that Activision Blizzard’s priority is “audience focus — the recognition and appreciation that our audiences invest so much in our franchises and our responsibility to them to continually innovate within those. We feel a tremendous responsibility to our audiences to keep our franchises exciting.”

When it comes to creating new ideas, Kotick stated that the company he’s been CEO of since 1991 is very good at innovating within franchises. “And equally good at creating new ones,” he said. “The ways that you innovate within a franchise are not inconsistent with the ways that you create new franchises. However, the one benefit of an existing franchise is the clear road map for success. You already know who your audience is. You have an understanding of their expectations. You then take your inspired, creative teams and think about those franchises and what you want to create that is going to delight, surprise, and entertain your fans — all with a lot of knowledge about what matters to them and what’s important.” The key, he insists, is to pay attention. “All you have to do is listen,” Kotick stated. “And that doesn’t mean someone is going to give you the ideas, but they are certainly going to give you their thoughts and opinions. And if you’re respectful of those thoughts and opinions, you’re usually going to have a pretty good road map for innovation.”

In regard to newer games, Kotick explained, “I would say that what we really start with is a team of passionate people who can articulate what it is that they’re looking to create. And the No. 1 thing that usually is in principal consideration for us is the team’s passion.”

The Value of Creativity and Facing the Future of the Metaverse

According to Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzard “is in the service of creating, nurturing, and growing franchises and satisfying audiences. And I think that process can really enable innovation and allow you the ability to allocate creative resources, engineering programming resources, all in a more thoughtful way.”

Kotick added, “You want to have an appreciation that process has value, and inspired creativity has more value. But I think that we’ve always found that the benefit of both is that you actually have the right resources aligned with the right opportunities. I don’t think you have to be more complex than that. It’s the collaborative process that allows for a greater level of success. I don’t know very many successful creative companies that don’t have some real appreciation for the process.”

The video game industry has evolved dramatically since Bobby Kotick first started creating software for Apple while still a college student at the University of Michigan. How has he managed to keep the company afloat across a range of new platforms? “When a new platform emerges, we first evaluate whether we can put our best creative foot forward. Next, we consider whether we can do something new, innovative, and well differentiated. If we can, we consider it, then we evaluate commercial considerations,” he said. “We think augmented reality [AR] and virtual reality [VR] have great potential for new creativity in games, but new platforms take time to build audiences. Establishing new platforms always takes a lot longer than people expect.”

As for the metaverse, Bobby Kotick said, “I think we’re starting to get much closer to the idea of an actual metaverse where you have, what is the most important thing in my view, this continuous social connection. But when you think about what will happen with AR and VR over the next 10 years, and local processing power and distributed processing capability in the form of streaming, we’re going to get to a place where that original vision that Neil Stephenson had in Snow Crash or what you see in Ready Player One is going to start to materialize as something that is very real. I think we’re rapidly progressing towards that as a legitimate mass-market experience.”

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Pamela is a television journalist, humor writer and novelist. Her first novel, Allegedly, was released in 2015 by St. Martin’s Press. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She and her husband, Daniel, have a 3-year-old son, Carter.

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