Activision makes at least $100 million for each month that World of Warcraft is kept on its servers – an eye-wateringly lucrative business operation that exemplifies the significance of the $7 billion Activision-Blizzard merger.
But the firm’s antiheroic CEO Bobby Kotick has a confession to make: he could have bought Blizzard, and more, for a fraction of the price.
During a lively and intimate keynote address in Las Vegas, Kotick told a packed audience that he was offered the chance to buy Vivendi’s game operation for just $700 million.
The sub-billion-dollar package included Vivendi Universal Games, Massive Entertainment, Sierra, Blizzard, Diablo, StarCraft and last but not least, a game in development called World of Warcraft.
But Kotick said that, at the time, he believed the idea of a subscription-based MMO was "the silliest thing ever".
It was a confession that would not be the first in Kotick’s hour-long speech.
He revealed that he also missed the chance to speak to Will Wright about some product called ‘The Sims’. And, rather sportingly, he once again recited an anecdote where, at a business dinner during the mid-nineties, he was "mind-boggled" that Blizzard was acquired by educational software firm Davidson & Associates for $7 million – a figure he still jokes is a "ludicrous amount of money”.
Kotick’s move to expose his fallibility was a clear indication that he, and his company, wants to be distanced from the ugliness associated with being the biggest game publisher in the world, and one with a ruthless will to make its studios profitable.