Activision Boss Bobby Kotick Blasts EA, Tim Schafer, and Former Infinity Ward Leads

By Xav de Matos, Sep 27, 2010 1:00pm PDT Bobby Kotick is quickly becoming one of the industry's most quotable sources and in a recent interview with Edge magazine, the Activision CEO did not disappoint.

Discussing the situation at Infinity Ward [via Eurogamer], which began when Call of Duty creators Jason West and Vincent Zampella were very publicly released from their positions, Kotick said the publishing giant that he helps had no choice but to release the pair. "The frustrating thing about that is, the stuff that these guys did, I never would have expected them to do," Kotick said. "We're a public company, we've got ethics obligations, and the things they did were... I would go to jail if I did them."

According to Kotick, West and Zampella were utilizing company resources for their own personal benefit. Although the Infinity Ward team has seen a number of employees leave the company since the firing of the team's leads, Kotick claims that "something like 5000 resumes" have been submitted to join the development house. Kotick closed the discussion by saying he felt "betrayed" by two former employees he considered friends.

Kotick also sounded off against Tim Schafer [via CVG], who had said the Activision boss was being "a total prick" in reference to the publishing company's history with Double Fine's previous title Brutal Legend. "The guy comes out and says I'm a prick. I've never met him in my life," Kotick said. "I never had any involvement in the Vivendi project that they were doing, Brutal Legend."

Kotick continued by clarifying that the decision to cancel the game was linked to Schafer's inability to meet milestones, stay on budget, or make Brutal Legend into a "particularly good" game. Why Activision then decided to sue Double Fine for bringing a game--which Kotick clearly states was not welcome his company's catalog--to a competitor is unclear.

In July, Schafer revealed that a planned Brutal Legend sequel had been canceled by Electronic Arts. Tim Schafer has since responded to Kotick's slam, telling Eurogamer "It's sad is that instead of just insulting me personally, [Bobby Kotick] goes after the product of my hard-working team--a group of people he almost put out of work a while back." Schafer added, "But what's even sadder is that it took him two months to think of a comeback."

On the subject of EA, Kotick did not shy from blasting the major competitor, accusing the company of removing the identity of its owned development companies, according to Edge online. "EA will buy a developer and then it will become 'EA Florida', 'EA Vancouver', 'EA New Jersey', whatever," Kotick noted. "We always looked and said, 'You know what? What we like about a developer is that they have a culture, they have an independent vision and that's what makes them so successful.'" Over the last few years, multiple EA-branded studios have swapped names, including EA Los Angeles to Danger Close, EA Redwood Shores to Visceral Games, and Mythic which shifted from from EA Mythic back to its original studio label. Shaping the makeup of development studios isn't something Activision is immune to, as the publisher has restructured, laid off, and--in one instance--closed a studio over the last year.

According to Kotick, EA's "DNA" isn't oriented towards a business model that allows the same kind of freedom that Activision provides its development teams. "EA has a lot of resources, it's a big company that's been in business for a long time, maybe it'll figure it out eventually. But it's been struggling for a really long time. The most difficult challenge it faces today is: great people don't really want to work there," Kotick proclaimed.

Edge Magazine issue 220 is currently available for sale on newsstands and online.

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15 Threads | 28 Comments
  • Kotick PWNS again , in a different way.

    Now he uses the same things PC community uses towards publishers , .... like an old chap with us togeter shitting on EA ; which APPARENTLY is trying to get over the business rage and more to a , respectable label which i think , they aren't admitting it , but damn trying , ... it's logical , those are business man , they don't know a lot about practicse of making games , and i think it's a big learning curve, but ... it's always ricitello that's the boss so he was really low at the E3 , kind of , all nice and shy ... hahah. Good to see them , progressing at least , EA will prove it self when they bring up old games they destroye, and better be a good game. Even if they don't have the best talent , they just need to give more time and resources into one project, risky , but it pays off if it's really good and going to catch.

    But it's now clear , activision was not directly responsible for crappy PC version , but it was , you guessed it , all about the money , an internal Activision developer , IW , which were on a special agreement to be "independent" and would recieve royalties for sales and engine tech , .... that's why IW was pissed on Treyarch , they didn't recieve MW2 royalties and probably no ENGINE royalties (beginning with cod4 engine) because they were seeing how Activision gave so many guys IW tech.
    So IW protested and just made however it did , because you don't know what happened , you don't know that IW co creator just disappeared , grant collier , all trace of him ... except the cod4 prising interview of how good the PC version of cod4 will be. Anyways , Activision getting over the money they owed , they saw this as an attack on activision , because kotick probably saw what PC guys did to activision , freaking clusterfuck i was in the middle of it all that week, know everything about it , so Activision was i think quite pissed on the IW , since , when grant collier left , it was the start of issues , they already realized they lost the studio , a lot of guys already wanted to leave after Cod4 , since , while working under an employee contract , royalties mentoned were given directly to them , not to IW as a studio (the bosses would share it appart) , the Infinity Ward was an activision property still , so they didn't mind crapping on their "own" image too.

    How weirdly , ... does it make all the way down to ID Software , IW has to pay , because Call Of Duty engine is actually Quake engine , but i think that only matters for the ww2 cods , the newer cods maybe don't have to pay engine royalties to ID , but IS TILL says "Technology from ID software" on the retail box in the newer games.