Bobby Kotick: "Great people don't really want to work at EA"

Jaz McDougall

lotr eye of sauron

Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, told Edge that "The core principle of how we run the company is the exact opposite of EA. EA will buy a developer and then it will become 'EA Florida', 'EA Vancouver', 'EA New Jersey', whatever. We always looked and said, 'You know what? What we like about a developer is that they have a culture, they have an independent vision and that's what makes them so successful." EA returned fire at Activision in an interview with CVG yesterday, when a spokesperson attacked the publishing giant's "His company is based on three game franchises - one is a fantastic persistent world he had nothing to do with; one is in steep decline; and the third is in the process of being destroyed by Kotick's own hubris."

If you don't know what he's referring to, earlier this year, Activision fired Jason West and Vince Zampella, the head honchos at Infinity Ward. Lots of people from the Call of Duty-making studio left in protest, and then a group of Infinity Ward employees and ex-employees banded together with Jason and Vince to sue Activision for damages. It was like a train wreck - the internet couldn't look away, no matter how horrible it got. The persistent world is World of Warcraft, of course, and the franchis "in steep decline" is probably Guitar Hero.

But Kotick's point is that, apart from that notable exception, "the original founders of [our] studios are still running the studios today. The only thing that we try to do is to provide a support structure to make them more successful. If you do a really good job - and a lot of our studios do - you get to pick what is, in my view, the most difficult thing to pick in the industry: to make original intellectual property."

Kotick went on to challenge EA's ability to adapt to the expectations of the modern developer: "You can't be a floor wax and then decide that you're going to become a dessert topping. That doesn't work, it's your DNA. Their DNA isn't oriented towards that model - it doesn't know how to do it, as a culture or as a company, and it never has... Look, EA has a lot of resources, it's a big company that's been in business for a long time, maybe it'll figure it out eventually. But it's been struggling for a really long time. The most difficult challenge it faces today is: great people don't really want to work there."

I think it's a case of the pot implying that the kettle is a metallic kitchen utensil used chiefly for heating liquids, but what do you think?

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