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Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick won't lose his job before the end of 2023

In an email sent to staff, Phil Spencer said Kotick will remain with the Call of Duty publisher "through the end of 2023."

Chris Kerr

October 13, 2023

2 Min Read
Bobby Kotick's head peering from outside the frame
Original image via Activision Blizzard

Xbox boss Phil Spencer has explained that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will remain with the publisher "through the end of 2023."

As detailed by The Verge, Kotick will report directly to Spencer following Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard to "ensure a smooth and seamless integration."

Those comments were made in emails sent to staff by Spencer (seen by The Verge) in the wake of the seismic $68.7 billion merger.

Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft and Activision Blizzard had "agreed" that Kotick would step down once the acquisition was complete, but neither company has confirmed those plans publicly.

A swift exit could, however, net Kotick millions in bonuses and parachute payments. An SEC filing spotted by Axios in February 2022 noted that Kotick will be handed a $15 million golden parachute payment if Microsoft fires him without "cause" or he chooses to depart for "good reason."

Kotick safe in the short term, but will Microsoft enable a changing of the guard?

Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in controversy in recent years due to a series of misconduct and harassment allegations that have been levelled at senior figures, including Kotick.

In 2021, the Call of Duty publisher was sued by the state of California over allegations it had fostered a "frat boy" culture that resulted in instances of harassment and misconduct that went unpunished. Activision denied those claims and said the lawsuit contained "distorted, and in many cases false descriptions of Blizzard's past."

A few months later, Kotick found himself under the spotlight when the Wall Street Journal published a report that alleged the CEO had enabled abusers at Activision Blizzard by ignoring serious allegations of misconduct.

The publication also claimed Kotick had been personally accused of mistreating "several women," including an incident where he allegedly sent a voice mail to his assistant threatening to have her killed. In response to that report, Kotick shared a message in which he emphasized his desire to foster "the most welcoming and inclusive workforce."

"Anyone who doubts my conviction to be the most welcoming, inclusive workplace doesn’t really appreciate how important this is to me," he added.

Those reports prompted mass employee walkouts at Activision Blizzard, with many staffers calling for Kotick's resignation.

The allegations also elicited responses from key players like Microsoft. At the time, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said the company would be "evaluating" its relationship with Activision Blizzard. Now, after spending almost 70 billion dollars, Microsoft is the owner of the company.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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