Why we need to stop criticizing game company CEOs

Bobby Kotick, the brash, outspoken, much-maligned New Yawhkah who is the CEO of Activision Blizzard, came in for the New York Times profile treatment over the weekend. It won’t do much to change the gaming community’s perception of him:

Even in high school in Roslyn, N.Y., he had a taste for showmanship, picking up friends in a chauffeured limo to take them to Studio 54. He showed up at college at the University of Michigan in a Fiat convertible, with a stack of Italian cashmere sweaters in various ’80s hues, according to two former classmates.


Mr. Kotick, who calls himself a libertarian, voted for Mitt Romney for president, and in 2007 and 2008 donated a combined $47,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

So, the carping about Kotick will continue, but if we’re being realistic about what businessmen are supposed to do, I find it hard to fault the guy. He does his job and he does it well. He’s built a hugely distressed company into a colossus, and he creates enormous value for his shareholders. I think a lot of the animus towards Kotick comes from a basic game-culture anxiety that the hobby that we love comprises a series of products that can be marketed and sold like Coke. That’s where indie games and your wallet come in. If you don’t like what Bobby Kotick does, don’t buy Activision’s games. Buy Valve games – when they come out; buy indies. Otherwise, criticizing a businessman for making money feels naive, at best. It makes us look bad.