Bobby Kotick on How Activision Blizzard Can Keep Up With the Biggest Gaming and Tech Trends

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    Major trends in the gaming industry include subscription services and deliveries that can reach more than one platform, which will most likely lead to fewer exclusive titles in the coming years. However, Activision Blizzard will continue its commitment to excellence in gaming. “Focus is going to get rewarded,” stated Activision Blizzard’s longtime CEO, Bobby Kotick. “If you can’t after a sustained period of time get to [a] level of excellence, then we are going to have to make a change.”

    Bobby Kotick admits that Activision Blizzard has scrapped some great game ideas. “We were doing a game that was more of an open world Grand Theft Auto-style game, something that our company had aspired to build just a little bit more audience-friendly, not as violent, but more focused on the driving and the fighting, and less about the profanity,” Kotick told Forbes. “And so it would not have been as controversial content, but really great dynamic in the game play. And we recognized that after giving it a good college try for three years, we did not have the skills at the company to do that type of game, so we canceled it.”

    Throughout his career as the Activision Blizzard CEO, Bobby Kotick has been a proponent of risk-taking and the freedom to fail regarding game development. “People had other opportunities to move on to different things,” stated Kotick. “Sometimes we do that with an outside developer where it is going to be less consequential to the company because it is harder to take a development studio that has been going in one direction that you own and move it in a different direction.”

    Women in Gaming Are on the Rise

    Bobby Kotick said that Activision Blizzard “spends a lot of time up front with its audiences, to really try and draw out from them what it is that they would like to play.” In recent years the company learned that its single most extensive community of players is 25- to 49-year-old women. “They play games like Candy Crush,” he mentioned on Leadership Live With David Rubenstein.

    A study conducted by Activision Blizzard confirmed that more than two-thirds of mothers play video games via a range of platforms, such as mobile, tablet, PC, and console. The study stated, “They view entertainment, including gaming, as an important and positive part of their lives compared to their nongaming mom peers. Additionally, 57% of gamer moms believe entertainment technology improves their mood compared to [45% of] nongamer moms.”

    Hopefully, as the number of female-identifying gamers increases, women will be better represented, both as gaming characters and also behind the scenes as developers and designers. Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said that the company “recognizes the needs of workers for feeling safe, heard and fairly compensated for their great work. We definitely see a need for supporting employees.”

    Mobile Games Are Major Moneymakers

    Mobile games, in particular, are popular with women, who tend to play games on their phones 25% longer than men. “Our biggest market is on phones, and Android is the biggest platform in the world for us, then iOS,” Bobby Kotick said. “As long as we know that, we can create great, compelling, differentiated content [that] will support most platforms.”

    His company made more than half its revenue in Q2 2022 from its mobile games collection. In the official filing, Kotick’s Activision Blizzard stated that $831 million came from the “mobile and ancillary” business.

    Bobby Kotick’s Company Is Expanding Diversity and Upskilling Talent

    Activision Blizzard is deeply invested in growing diversity and improving the company’s culture. Its groundbreaking Level Up U program is also making strides towards better upskilling traditionally underrepresented groups to become gaming developers.

    The program is being funded through the $250 million in Activision’s diversity fund, which Bobby Kotick announced last year. Its purpose is to better create opportunities in gaming and tech for underrepresented communities at the company, which is headquartered in Southern California.

    Julie Hodges, the company’s chief people officer, stated, “Level Up U is a unique, three-month program developed to help individuals from all backgrounds start their careers in gaming. It is designed to teach participants the basics of game development and ultimately prepare them for engineering roles within the company. In addition to traditional classroom and project-based work, those in the program will also have access to our incredible leaders who will serve as guest speakers and mentors.”

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