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.
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
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.