Deposition of Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activsion Blizzard, was one of the highlights of day four of the FTC. v. Microsoft hearing. Here is what he had to say about Call of Duty and its absence on Switch, as well as his stance on Game Pass and subscription services in general.

Bobby Kotick: Removing CoD from PlayStation would lead to a revolt and "cause reputational damage"

Bobby Kotick (Image: CNBC Television)

Kotick’s deposition follows that of SIE boss Jim Ryan, who also shared his view on the Activision Blizzard deal and Microsoft’s alleged incentive to remove Call of Duty from PlayStation. Below are the key takeaways from the testimony of the Activision Blizzard head, and the bigger picture can be found, for example, in a detailed report by The Verge.

  • According to Kotick, Call of Duty was inspired by Electronic Arts’ Medal of Honor. To keep the pace of releasing a new CoD game every year, Activision “had to instill a compensation and reward system to keep people motivated to work on sequels.”

  • The Activision CEO noted that the company never thought of making its main franchise exclusive to one platform. This move would “alienate over 100 million montly active users.”
  • Kotick compared gaming in general and player passion about competitive titles like Call of Duty to real sports, saying that removing it from one platform would lead to a “revolt.” So he sees no reason why Microsoft would want to foreclose players on other platforms from accessing the series.

  • Call of Duty has 100 million MAU and 70 million DAU (daily active users).
  • Speaking of the share of each platform for CoD, Kotick said “the bulk of players are playing on phones,” followed by PC (25%), PlayStation (15-16%), and Xbox (7-8%).
  • On top of that, Call of Duty’s revenue on PlayStation is more than double that on Xbox.
  • Why didn’t Activision release Call of Duty on Nintendo Switch? Kotick said he “made a bad judgement,” adding that he didn’t think this console was going to be successful. Now he regrets it, calling it a bad decision.
  • He then said he found out about Microsoft’s 10-year agreement with Nintendo from the news. “We missed out on this past generation on Switch, I would like to think we’d be able to do that, but we’d have to wait for specs. We dont have any present plans to do so,” Kotick noted.

  • Will Sony be able to develop a Call of Duty competitor? Kotick believes that “they have an enormous amount of ability, they own some of the best game devs in the world.”
  • Speaking of multi-game subscription services, the Activision CEO stated that part of his prejudice towards Game Pass stems from “having watched media companies move their content to streaming subscription services and the business has suffered as a result.”
  • Activision never planned to add Call of Duty to Game Pass or any other multi-game subscription service. The same goes for cloud gaming services, as Kotick believes that they can’t provide a good experience to players.

  • However, Kotick has nothing against a singular game subscription, e.g. World of Warcraft, where players pay every month to play a specific game. On top of that, Call of Duty has already been added to PS Plus, but Activision never considered adding the game to Sony’s multi-game subscription library.
  • Kotick thinks that adding Activision titles to subscription services would be beneficial only for the short term, “not something as sustainable or a long term business solution.”

  • Kotick wants Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard to go through because 98% of Activision shareholders voted in its favor, and it is in his best interest to do this on their behalf.
  • He also confirmed that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II was the highest-grossing entertainment release of 2022 with over $1 billion generated in 10 days and that Diablo IV was a record-breaking launch for Blizzard.

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