Bobby Kotick and the Activision-Blizzard board have shied away from investor calls for the last year as the Microsoft buyout looms, but that hasn’t stopped Kotick from making yet another appearance on TV this week. The first appeared to predict doom for a UK that rejected the merger (and was an apparent attempt to head off UK regulators’ criticisms), and now this second, on Fox Business, hits some of the same talking points.
For example, on the CNBC interview earlier this week, Kotick appealed to xenophobic impulses, appearing to suggest that western regulators should approve the merger to help a western company compete with Chinese and Japanese corporations. On Fox, he brings it up again:
“First of all, the industry itself is a $200B business, and if you think about just in the last 10 years, the industry has changed. We never had Chinese competitors the way we have today, companies like ByteDance and Tencent – these are extraordinary companies with incredible talent and a lot of vision and a lot of creativity. And then we’ve got great competitors in the hardware companies, but I don’t think we would’ve ever expected that more games would be played on Apple iPhones and Android phones, and that’s where the bulk of the growth in the industry has come. And what we’re really starting to see is that what used to be a business that was about middle class consumers in developed countries is now expanded to – for us alone – 190 countries. And that’s where you’re seeing this tremendous growth; it’s coming from these telephones.”
Kotick also once again suggests that regulators just don’t understand the gaming industry; he claims it’s an “extremely fragmented industry” where “the dominant players are Japanese and Chinese companies.” He also argues that Call of Duty isn’t a proprietary idea as a very basic military sim. The host – while wildly speculating that international regulators are “colluding” – argues that people are more concerned about exclusivity tricks than trademarks. Kotick counters by revealing Sony hasn’t even been returning Activision-Blizzard’s phone calls and suggesting that Activision-Blizzard isn’t as “valuable as maybe [Sony has] represented to the regulators that [ABK is]” – all this on a segment that kicked off with bragging about Call of Duty driving the company to a record quarter.
Kotick further complains that it’s illogical to believe that Microsoft would change its business model to make ABK games exclusive, which is another easily rebutted claim, as Microsoft’s Bethesda has already announced that it most definitely will.