Activision’s Bobby Kotick is a total prick, says Tim Schafer [Updated with official Activision response]

In an intimate interview with Eurogamer, Double Fine Productions’ Tim Schafer talks what he loves, like the film Casablanca and the first time he played Super Mario 64. But he also talks about some of the things he hates, managing to call Activision’s CEO Bobby Kotick ‘a total prick’ and a ‘dick.’

Kotick is often portrayed as an all-business ‘money man’ who doesn’t play or understand games, infamous for saying that he wants to ‘take all the fun out of making videogames.’ When asked if it’s fair to criticize Kotick for focusing on making Activision profitable, Shafer bluntly replied: “Well, he doesn’t have to be as much of a dick about it, does he? I think there is a way he can do it without being a total prick. It seems like it would be possible. It’s not something he’s interested in.”

Above: Tim Schafer, a game designer everyone loves (left). Bobby Kotick, a CEO everyone loves to hate (right)

“Well, he makes a big deal about not liking games, and I just don't think that attitude is good for games in general. I don't think we're an industry of widgets. I don't think we can approach it like we approach bars of soap, where you're just trying to make the cheapest bar of soap. He definitely has that that kind of widget-maker attitude. I don't think he's great for the industry, overall. You can't just latch onto something when it's popular and then squeeze the life out of it and then move on to the next one. You have to at some point create something, build something,” reasons Shafer.

“He could go to an industry that makes more money,” continues Shafer. “Ball bearings... Something that suits his passions more. Weapons manufacturing?”

Maybe Shafer is right. Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Securities Technology Conference in San Francisco in 2009, Kotick talked up changes he had made to Activision’s employee incentive program, saying that “it really rewards profit and nothing else.” According to Kotick employees should be aware of “skepticism, pessimism, and fear,” adding that “We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression.” Sounds like a horrible guy to work for in an industry that thrives on fun and creativity.

July 14, 2010

Source: EurogamerIndustry GamersCVG

UPDATE: Activision responds to the Shafer slam

Activision has responded to Tim Shafer’s slam against Activision’s Bobby Kotick in the recent Eurogamer interview. Speaking to Kotaku, Maryanne Lataif, senior vice president of corporate communications at Activision Blizzard, says “Tim Shafer’s comment that Bobby Kotick ‘makes a big deal about not liking games’ just isn’t true. Bobby has always been passionate about games, and loves the video game industry. But as CEO of a company that makes games enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, the demands on his time now make it difficult to play games as often as he’d like to or as much as he once did.”


  • KainStrider - July 16, 2010 11:14 p.m.

    "But as CEO of a company that makes games enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, the demands on his time now make it difficult to play games as often as he’d like to or as much as he once did.” I'm sorry but I smell a lot of crap spewing from this statement especially since it wasn't from the man himself but some spokeswoman.
  • cj12297 - July 15, 2010 6:55 p.m.

    "the demands on his time now make it difficult to play games as often as he’d like to or as much as he once did.” What?
  • nemesisuprising - July 15, 2010 3:21 p.m.

    ahh tim schafer, what a fucking hero
  • nighthawk205 - July 15, 2010 12:34 p.m.

    Maybe Kotick should spend less time talking at conferences and more time focusing on the products his company produces.
  • fanboypcs360 - July 15, 2010 11:53 a.m.

    bobby kotick has the most punchable face in the world. really stare at his picture and your rage will fill and his face will just keep more and more punchable. reCAPTCHA: yesterday rebukes. whats a rebukes?
  • Tomsta666 - July 15, 2010 11:43 a.m.

    LOL, even the activision spokesperson doesn't refute that Kotick is prick. ahahaha
  • Dameon Angell - July 15, 2010 11:16 a.m.

    I love how they didn't say he wasn't a dick in his rebuttal. Just that he used to play video games.
  • SwampRock - July 15, 2010 9:21 a.m.

    kotick will definitely feel the wrath of all gamers in the afterlife, when he goes to gamer hell for being such an asshole.
  • Mechamorbo - July 15, 2010 4:59 a.m.

    Summary - Schafer: Kotick is a total prick! Activision: ...But he sort of likes games, kinda. Someone should point out to the rep who responded that you sorta want to address the main charge that was levied if you're going to respond at all. Only responding on one small side part kinda implies that you are tacitly agreeing with the rest that was said. Therefore, the new, updated headline SHOULD read: "Activision Agrees Kotick is a Total Prick, Dick." You heard it here first, people.
  • JohnDagger - July 15, 2010 3:57 a.m.

    A good metaphor for Bobby is the satisfying fart you have and then 3 hours later you realize that your pants are full of shit. Activision makes a good and satisfying game, but then later on after you finish playing it's eighth sequel, you smell shit.
  • nadrewod999 - July 15, 2010 3:52 a.m.

    @DOCCON, DONT CHANGE THAT PICTURE! Instead of thinking of it as a symbol of Activision's greed with those grotesque prices for the MW2 game and DLC, think of it as a symbol of rebellion against just such a monster. Take another look at it. The only thing you initially see are two people riding away very fast from something yet unseen, but presumably dangerous. Right now, can you name two people who have run away from Activision because of their horrible tactics, who also are closely related to that image? If you said West and Zampella, the two top guys at IW from the beginning until a few months back, you just bought yourself a new and improved profile pic. Oh, almost forgot to talk about the article. Never do know what do expect out of good ol' Tim, but it will always take the world by storm. Also, Kotick needs to go into any of the games Activision produces, where he will get electrified by guitar solos, reverted into blind mutants by TMDs, obliterated by AC-130s, hit in the face with a tactical nuke, or smothered in his endless, glitchy sequels.
  • DaCunt - July 15, 2010 3 a.m.

    What happened to Tims hair. Oh well he looks better like this
  • aberkromby - July 15, 2010 2:59 a.m.

    Activisions response to Shafer's comment was total bullshit...
  • OneEyedGoon - July 15, 2010 2:58 a.m.

    Activision's response doesn't really have much to do with what Schafer said at all. The fact that Uncle Bobby doesn't have time to play games wasn't really the point. Way to evade, guys!
  • Peanut726 - July 15, 2010 2:53 a.m.

    Somewhere Dan Amrich is rubbing his forehead in frustration
  • EDfromRED - July 15, 2010 2:34 a.m.

    Gotta love Tim Schaefer, he tells it like it is. I'm gonna buy Brutal Legend ASAP!
  • Openwound - July 15, 2010 2:12 a.m.

    I like the reverse lighting motif within the picture. Good guy Schafer with the satanic light and all-around jerkoff Kotick in the lily-white.
  • BLOODmuffins - July 15, 2010 2:05 a.m.

    Well said, Mr. Schafer
  • RebornKusabi - July 15, 2010 1:06 a.m.

    You know, the fact that guys like this still exist kind of shows why **** like RealID wouldn't have actually done any damage. This man has given the less stable gamers plenty of reasons to get rid of him and have yet to do so, thereby showing my complete point on how much "damage" knowing less famous peoples full identities would be. All gamers complain about wanting to physically harm this man and what exactly have they done aside from whine and cry and have temper-tantrums about him? You have his full name; his full address now and yet you do nothing but continue to complain? Do I hate Bobby Kotick? No because in the end, that takes up too much energy. Do I think he is "harming the industry"? Yes, in the same was that movie studios inherently stunted the growth of motion pictures during the 1940's-1960's. Thankfully, if gaming IS to mature than we will have to have times like these because in times like these, great games (like the independent movie scene of the early 70's) get made with the specific intent to be wholly unlike what most studios would make themselves and thereby stand on it's own just by sheer originality compared to the more "money" intellectual properties that studios continue to make at the time. Also, keep in mind that many movie classics that we all hold dear were made after this period which all owe thanks to the envelope-pushing that most movies preceding them had to make. Also keep in mind that for every envelope-pushing movie that were made during the 70's, that were also critically well received movies, like Last Tango in Paris; there were also envelope-pushing movies that were also rejected due to the lack of overall point that they were trying to make, i.e. Brown Bunny which was made fairly recently but also made without understanding the exact point of what those late 1960's, early 1970's envelope-pushing movies were trying to do which was break away from the overall lack of experimentation that the movie studios were trying to make at the time. I got off on a soap box here but not without a point: men like Bobby Kotick are overall good entities for the industry because while he thrives to "take the fun out of video game development", there will be game makers whom do not attempt to do so and inevitably and irrevocably end up making vastly better games since their drive to break away from the mold will result in fantastic games that actually try to approach gaming as not only an entertainment medium but also as an overall medium itself that can effect the consumer on a personal and enjoyable medium. Then we'll end up with video games that pull off what "The Dark Knight" did which was make a throughly bad-ass summer movie blockbuster as well as an intellectual one that contemplates headier issues while allowing the average consumer to confront them without being off-put by the material. /paragraph of text
  • ensabahnur - July 15, 2010 12:54 a.m.

    End of the day i agree with what Tim is saying but Kotick is just a business man plain and simple, most CEO's dont have any previous knowledge of what they are in charge of but they make smart business decisions and thats what gets them to the top. Sadly it would be beneficial i feel if he had some love for the games.

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