EA Responds to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick's Mudslinging

By Xav de Matos, Sep 28, 2010 10:20am PDT Electronic Arts has fired back at Bobby Kotick for comments the Activision CEO made regarding EA's business structure and production quality, and claiming that "great people" do not want to work EA development studios.

In a statement released to Gamasutra, EA corporate communications vice president Jeff Brown blasted the outspoken CEO, saying "Kotick's relationship with studio talent is well-documented in litigation." Over the last two years, Activision has entered legal battles with former Infinity Ward leads James West and Vincent Zampella following the pair's public firing as well as a legal tussle with Tim Schafer's studio Double Fine surrounding the release of Brutal Legend under EA's label.

Brown also took shots at the three largest brands in Activision's catalog: World of Warcraft, Guitar Hero and Call of Duty. "[Kotick's] company is based on three game franchises - one is a fantastic persistent world he had nothing to do with; one is in steep decline; and the third is in the process of being destroyed by Kotick's own hubris."

Activision and EA have continued to square off in the media and in the boardroom. In July 2009, Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey left EA's Visceral Games to form Sledgehammer Games under the Activision umbrella, later revealing they would develop a new title in based in the Call of Duty universe. Following their public release from Activision, Jason West and Vincent Zampella formed Respawn Entertainment and quickly signed a distribution deal with EA. Each studio move has prompted mudslinging from each company, fueling mainstream beliefs that the video game industry is composed of children sobbing from skinned knees.

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  • EA speaks the truth (and that is not something I'd say often). Blizzard-Activision is a company that has two big franchises (formerly three when Tony Hawk mattered) plus a company with a money tree and a history of franchises that is beyond amazing.

    Activision, the part that Kotick built, is sub-par. Call of Duty was built to be awesome by the two guys he later fired because he didn't want to pay them their royalties or let them have control of the company he likes to say they have independent choices at. Just because you let them stay named Infinity Ward and not, "Activision Studio #2," doesn't mean you give them freedom. And he didn't them, clearly. See, either he's right and they're lying, which means the freedom he says he gave them wasn't there because they wanted to have free choice to do what they wanted. Or he's lying and they're right, which means Activison promised them a lot of different things and not only did not deliver, but refused to let the guys who made the franchise a blockbuster any credit for that.

    So for the company Kotick rebuilt, Call of Duty and Guitar Hero are the only thing they have. He didn't participate in the decision-making that made either game. He was the guy who okayed the checks that bought Red Octane (recently shuttered) because they had the smarts to have Harmonix develop said game. And he was the guy who took in a couple of ex-EA guys after they made a spectacular version of Medal of Honor at 2033. Not rocket science.

    What other games does his company have to take credit for? What has his vision of gaming delivered to us? Nothing.

    Blizzard made Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo. The most of important of these is World of Warcraft. Not because it's the best, but because it's the money tree that props Kotick up. He can say anything, do anything, take any bet, make any mistake, and as long as WoW keeps dropping money fruit, he can get away with it and announce record profits. Is it any wonder that Blizz started selling mounts, selling pets, charges for server transfers and faction changes (separately, too)? WoW makes Kotick look like a genius because of how much money he rolls in. And having a Call of Duty every year in November, no matter how great or bad it is, pads the bottom line.

    But none of it did his gaming strategy create. As such, his "Milk that teet until its dry, bleeding, and the animal is dead" will do to Call of Duty, Warcraft, and Blizzard as a whole what it has already done to Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero.

    It'll take longer with Blizzard because he has to proceed very slowly and carefully in his subversion of their "values" to keep from angering people who know how he operates. If it were to get out too quickl, even investors might question his actions. Done slowly enough, no one'll even notice.