Ex-Activision CEO Kotick Allegedly Sent Overwatch 2 To Die On Steam

activison blizzard bobby kotick out after 32 years caused problems for overwatch 2
Now that CEO Bobby Kotick is out at Activision-Blizzard, many are airing their grievances with the former leader. Among the many scandals or incidents that Kotick weathered, it would seem that Overwatch 2’s team was left to hang out and dry when it came to launching the game on Steam, according to emerging reports. While this does not come as a surprise, it is still somewhat heartbreaking, if true, for the developers who poured themselves into the game.

Before diving into the allegations, it should be noted that Kotick resuscitated a bankrupt company in 1992, taking control of Activision for $440,000 at the time. For context, Microsoft has now acquired Activision-Blizzard for a whopping $69 billion, which is a massive 156,818X increase over the original purchase price. Kotick was quoted in 2009 as saying, “bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games”, which in his opinion, fostered a culture of thrift.

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More recently, in 2021, Activision-Blizzard (AB) drew flack from the gaming community for laying off employees while Kotick was set to receive a $200m payout as a “Shareholder Value Creation Incentive.” This was followed later in the year by a sexual harassment scandal that netted the head of then-Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, but Kotick seemingly escaped. It is fairly safe to say that while AB has experienced tremendous growth under Kotick, the company may not have had the healthiest culture. Perhaps Microsoft will change that with the recent acquisition, but we digress.

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With Kotick stepping down after 32 years in the industry, folks have begun to come forward with some of the inside baseball at Activision. For example, community development manager Andy Belford took to X to explain the woes faced by the Overwatch 2 team, including concerns about review bombing. Chiefly, these concerns were ignored months before launch, and Steam moderation was left to the community team. This decision was reportedly due to Kotick and fell in line with his reported culture of “sh*t flowed downstream, usually landing on the lowest paid and most overworked individuals.”

Kotick's apparent goal the entire time was to draw profits, regardless of player or employee experience. It was always about the market value and not necessarily creativity in the industry, which is not a great way to create games. In any event, it is probably good that Kotick is gone, as it will hopefully relieve some of the pressures developers felt at AB. Perhaps we will see this reflected in games coming from the studio in the future, but we will have to wait and see.