Bobby Kotick – a man who somehow hung onto his job even after The Wall Street Journal published the revelation that he’d threatened to have his assistant murdered, a man who pretended to be a union guy and a games guy while spending millions screwing over game devs and laying them off in droves, a man who routinely denied ABK had a harassment culture problem and blamed workers and press for everything, a man who sold Activision-Blizzard to Microsoft in a last-ditch effort to save his own ass and golden parachute as both the industry and stock market turned against him – is finally almost gone.
Of course, you knew that already because Phil Spencer said as much over two months ago when the Microsoft deal completed, although he was more polite about it. But it’ll be official on December 29th, when Bobby Kotick is finally out of ABK – and with any luck, out of the games industry for good.
In his publicly posted farewell address to workers, Kotick praises Spencer, telling ABK workers – at least, those who haven’t been laid off or pushed out yet – that they “could not be in better hands” at Microsoft.
However, many of the Kotick-friendly hands haven’t actually changed, as The Verge reports that quite a few Activision execs and leadership positions will be left intact, at least for now, with specific exceptions; most notably, comms officer Lulu Meservey, who became notorious for Twitter shitposting during her brief tenure, departs at the end of January.
Blizzard president Mike Ybarra, a former Activision exec installed amid controversy by Kotick in 2021 following the ouster of J. Allen Brack, will also apparently keep his role, so don’t get too excited about institutional upheaval and change; Ybarra’s track record in the last two and a half years has been the opposite of great.
Ybarra posted an end-of-the-year memo of his own to Blizzard fans; he claims “more players [are] joining [WoW] right now than […] at the launch of Dragonflight,” notes the installment of new Hearthstone director Tyler Bielman, and counts “millions of players around the world” for Warcraft Rumble. That’s all accompanied infographics touting a billion WoW characters created and 26 million players killed by D.Va in Overwatch. If you’re looking for hard MAUs to evaluate Blizzard’s situation at the end of a messy year, those days are unfortunately over.
“2024 is going to be a massive year for the Warcraft universe, with a collection of anniversaries coming up: 30 years since the first Warcraft game, 20 years of World of Warcraft, 10 years of Hearthstone, and the one-year anniversary of Warcraft Rumble,” he says before promising to share more about the company’s in-development games “when the time is right.”
Not mentioned anywhere? An update on publishing games in China, a partner for which has gone unannounced for the last year.