Ask GR Anything: How much does Bobby Kotick earn?

Ask GR Anything is a weekly Q&A column that answers questions submitted by readers (as well as questions we're particularly curious about ourselves). Got a burning question about games or the industry? Ask us in the comments below and you may just get it answered!

Corporate pay and bonuses are all the rage these days, with the "Occupy (Etc.)" protests going on (whatever you happen to think of them), so we thought we’d kick off the debut of Ask GR Anything with a look at the gaming industry’s most reviled CEO: Mr. Robert A. Kotick.

As Activision Blizzard’s most visible officer, Kotick’s spent the last few years as a prime target for gamer rage following every unpopular decision the company has made. The hatred really started boiling around 2008, when Kotick became Activision’s CEO and Activision started releasing a new Guitar Hero game seemingly every 20 minutes, eventually running the franchise into the ground. Kotick also takes a lot of flak for the decisions made by Blizzard since its 2008 merger with Activision, including Starcraft II being split into three games, Blizzard planning to take a cut of Diablo III’s real-money auction house, and World of WarCraft’s microtransactions.

Under Kotick’s watch, Activision has also let several promising games languish at retail without advertising (i.e. Singularity, Blur, and James Bond 007: Blood Stone) and closed one of its most consistently awesome studios, Bizarre Creations. Finally, many gamers blame Kotick and Activision for the breakup of Call of Duty creator Infinity Ward. After a dispute over alleged unpaid royalties and meetings with rival publishers, the studio heads were fired, prompting 46 IW employees to resign soon afterward. (This may have had negative consequences for Modern Warfare 3, which was reportedly stalled in development for months after the revolt.)

Above: It still reviewed well, though

So how much did he make for riling the gaming community so badly? We took a peek at Activision’s annual SEC filings to find out.

Kotick’s  flat, pre-approved cash salary for 2011 is $1,057,350, up from $1,007,000 last year. In other words, his yearly five percent cost-of-living increase was quite a bit more than the average US salary in 2010.

That’s just cash pay, though. He also has a bonus structure set up to provide incentives for him to look after shareholders’ best interests. With those bonuses included, he received a total of $5,597,310. That’s not all, though! Not even close. He also earned a bunch of “other” compensation throughout the year. This includes $47,000 worth of insurance, $17,000 for “improvements to his home security,” and a whopping $411,364 in Activision stock dividends (the portion of a company’s profits that are paid out to shareholders.)

But it’s still not over yet! He also received 160,000 shares of Acti-Blizz stock, worth just under $2 million when they were granted to him in 2010. According to the filings, he has received about 2,500,000 Acti-Blizz stock since coming on board. In order to claim most of that stock, the company’s share price needs to reach a specific limit, and he needs to stay CEO for a set length of time. If he’s able to collect on all of those shares, they’ll be worth about $31,100,000. Not bad for someone who’s generated several lifetimes’ worth of gamer rage.


  • Japanaman - November 11, 2011 9:56 a.m.

    Where do babies come from? How are hot dogs made? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop? Kidding! Although I am curious why SNK character designs change so darn much? Why does Kyo dress in black, then wears a white shirt, then back to black? Why does he have a denim jacket that was never useed? Why did Andy and Terry wear their MOTW outfits later in the KOF series when they went back to their old look in KOF XII? Why did Mai go from wearing a vest with black shoes to insteps to her slit outfit with tabis to wearing her new outfit with insteps to wearing hew new outfit with tabis again? Why so many different looks in Fatal Fury, but only one in KOF? Because they had the chance to change sprites in FF, but not in KOF?
  • BLOODmuffins - November 10, 2011 10:29 a.m.

    What was the exact moment that he sold his soul to the devil?
  • Poffle - November 10, 2011 8:12 a.m.

    They wouldn't have to close down so many studios every year if they stop giving him so much money. Bobby: I want a pay rise. Activision: Well we'll have to let Bizarre Creations go then. Bobby: No sweat off my back. Activision: Ok, here's $5,000,00
  • Yaro - November 9, 2011 11:36 p.m.

    BTW the graffiti on the wall of the COD's screenshot says You cant destroy our will...if anyone cares =) Seems like people in Prague won't speak russian finally.
  • KidKatana - November 10, 2011 1:45 a.m.

    I didn't think I cared until you mentioned it. Good to know that Infinity Ward have at least done a minimal bit of research after reading Dave's recent feature about London's portrayal in MW3.
  • SpadesSlick - November 9, 2011 11:30 p.m.

    That was an interesting read to say the least. I'm looking forward to this new feature.
  • ThatGamerDude - November 9, 2011 11:19 p.m.

    I got a question I've always wondered, what software/hardware is required to port a game from a console to a PC. After seeing how PC versions of games (L.A. Noire, Batman Arkham City) are being released on PC so late, I've been curious to see what makes it so difficult to port them.
  • jmcgrotty - November 10, 2011 6:41 a.m.

    I'm sure this isn't what your question was intended to ask, but initially, all games are made on PC's. "Dev units" are just PC's with specs to match the console.
  • jmcgrotty - November 10, 2011 7:44 a.m.

    (Damn. Hit post before I meant to. Sure would love an "edit post" option) When then porting from console back to PC, the main issue is the large amount of different options that PC gamers might have. So, they need to find a way to get the game to work with as many variations as possible, so more people can play it. In a very, VERY simplified example, just take a look at the box a game comes in. They say minimum requirements and recommended requirements. That alone is basically saying they need to make 2 versions of every game. And that isn't even counting filling in all the possibilities between "minimum" and "recommended" (and beyond). So, part of that is the tech behind the systems (especially graphic chips). Sorry to say, though, that I am feeling too lazy to show actual examples. I'm sure searching the net will find someplace that talks about them. Bit basically: Imagine 1 video card uses method X for tessellation and another video card uses method Y for tessellation. To release the game on PC, the game needs to be able to recognize both methods of tessellation.
  • ThatGamerDude - November 10, 2011 6:09 p.m.

    Ah I see that's interesting thanks for the info.
  • Nanook - November 9, 2011 9:48 p.m.

    Need some advice helping my Dad pick out a gaming system & games. Here's the details. I'm 30. He's 60. Back in high school I got him into Goldeneye and he played it LONG after I left for college. About 5 years ago he inherited an X-box and, with a little due diligence, we found him the game Black, which he played to DEATH (I've never played). He loved it. Over the summer he had my Wii and got really into the new Goldeneye they had for that - just the online play (I should say, multiplayer against AI's was all he played on the original Goldeneye - he has no patience for a lot of plot). To summarize, and in his own words, "I just want to shoot things." He hates tactical strategy shooters, where he's got to sneak, be stealthy, work in teams, direct teams of AI, and deal with a lot of clunky mission objectives. Now, I've been out of the loop on games for a while. I play a few legacy games every year, but haven't been into shooters for YEARS and have NO idea where to steer him, given his taste. He wants a new system for Christmas, and I can't in good conscience point him towards the Wii - it's a dying system at best. He doesn't want to wait a year or more for whatever the new Nintendo system will be, and given his predilection for violent shooters I'm not even sure they'd have anything for him. Given ALL that criteria, what do you guys think? PS3 or X-Box 360? And what games? (reqs recap: lot's of shooting, no stealth, no plot, robust multiplayer, lots of weapons, simple-ish controls, and worlds chock full of stuff he can shoot to his hearts content without having to unlock too much bullshit). I realize the pared-down nature of the online multiplayer for the new Wii Goldeneye is practically sacrilegious to the FPS hardcore, but that was exactly my Dad's speed. That's my best, most recent analogue in terms of criteria.
  • ThatGamerDude - November 9, 2011 11:14 p.m.

    Your best bet is getting a PS3 and getting Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. That's really all I can think of right now. Hope this helps!
  • Dmancapri - November 10, 2011 3:40 a.m.

    I don't know what console, but it sounds like your talking about Battlefield 3
  • JackFrost14 - November 10, 2011 6:02 a.m.

    not battlefield 3. COD will work on 360, but if he really just wants to shoot stuff and cause mayhem then maybe try something like Bulletstorm.
  • LIAMthescot - November 10, 2011 11:35 a.m.

    Bodycount was made by the makers of Black and the demo was fun abd chaotic. If your dad really wants to break crap I'd recommend Red faction gurrilla (most likely spelled wrong).
  • Overlord153 - November 10, 2011 8:16 p.m.

    If he's willing to do a 3rd person shooter than Vanquish is your game. If not then BulletStorm would probably be the best. This is completly unrelated but what the hell is your avatar?!
  • austincharlesbond - November 9, 2011 8:57 p.m.

    Well although I don't like some of his decisions; you have to admire his ability to make that much money :D
  • Annihilator820 - November 9, 2011 8:27 p.m.

    My God... I just realized something. Bobby Kotick is the Joker. No, really. Look at him. The stretched-too-wide smile with too many teeth, the tiny eyes with the crazy gleam, the penchant for random, seemingly pointless evil. He is the Joker with no makeup. But now there is a lingering question... Who is the Batman to Kotick's Joker?
  • Dmancapri - November 10, 2011 3:41 a.m.


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