Bobby Kotick comes under the Forbes spotlight

Leading US business journal Forbes has published a detailed tribute to the personal success of Activision and Blizzard CEO and president Bobby Kotick, explaining how the entrepreneur used the EA publishing model to build the now biggest games publisher in the world.

The article reads: When Kotick stumbled across his umpteenth new business idea –buying a bankrupt video game maker – it seemed a perfect mismatch. Yet Bobby Kotick would go on to turn a bankrupt company into the biggest and most valuable video game publisher in the world. Over the course of his 18-year tenure shares in Activision have risen forty fold. It is now worth $12.3 billion, double the market value of the industry’s perennial leader, EA.

In an industry full of passionate gamers, Kotick stood apart: the guy who never picked up a joystick. Still, despite his personal dislike for using his own product, he was determined to make his mark by catering to the needs of deeply passionate game designers. Kotick set out to create a studio system that gave enormous latitude to the gamers dreaming up new hits. Between 1997 and 2003 he bought nine studios and provided seed money for Activision alumni to start others. The studios kept their names and, often, their own headquarters.

In 1999 Activision’s Neversoft studio released Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. The game was a breakthrough, shredding the monotony of sports games by letting players roam a virtual skateboarder’s paradise, pulling tricks at their leisure. The game became Activision’s first hit franchise.

Other successes soon followed. Kotick gave startup money to a group of developers disenchanted with their contract work for Electronic Arts. That group founded the Infinity Ward studio and created Call of Duty, a savage World War II game and Kotick’s second monster franchise. In 2006 Kotick agreed to pay $100 million for the company that owned Guitar Hero, which soon proved an even bigger smash.

By 2006 there was only one type of game Kotick had failed to build or buy for Activision, the wildly lucrative category of MMO games. The more Kotick learned about the power of the Warcraft franchise, the more enchanted he became. Activision’s board officially signed off on a merger with Vivendi in 2007, and the deal creating Activision Blizzard closed the following July. Kotick was left with control of 2 per cent of the combined companies’ stock, shares now worth $135 million.”

The full article can be read here.

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