Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is due to receive $200 million, according to an investment group, after dozens of employees in the company suffer layoffs.
Kotick’s generous payout is thanks to a clause in his contract, as reported by Kotaku. Activision Blizzard’s strong performance in the stock market throughout the pandemic made him eligible for the $200 million bonus.
These estimates are provided by CtW Investment Group, a watchdog organization dedicated to tracking “unethical corporate behavior and excessive executive pay.” CtW Investment Group researcher Michael Varner likened Kotick’s payout to rewarding someone for applying past successes based on the current stock price.
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“While the increase in Activision’s stock price is somewhat commendable, as we stated last year and continue to assert, this achievement alone does not justify such a substantial pay outcome for the CEO,” Varner wrote to Kotaku.
Activision Blizzard had originally announced that the layoffs were 50 people in the esports/live events departments but the real number appears to be much higher. Person familiar says it was less than 2% of total staff (2% would be around 190)— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) March 16, 2021
Gamers on Reddit sharply criticized both Activision Blizzard and Kotick.
“Bobby kotick is trash,” one Redditor wrote. “[Activision] is trash. I know most of us have a lot emotionally invested in these franchises but for f**** sake…. nothing changes because gamers are the perfect consumer base. addiction and no concern for anything outside of the product.”
“Corporations are not your friend,” another Reddit user declared. “They will only ever live to wring every dollar out of you, even if it kills you or ruins your life. They don’t deserve trust or loyalty. They will be the death of us all. Same thing with the ultra-wealthy.”
“Remember when Iwata cut his salary by half because we didn’t want to fire anyone because that would lower the team morale?” yet another Redditor wrote. “F*** Activision.”
The above comment was referencing the late Satoru Iwata, who was CEO of Nintendo from 2002 until his tragic death in 2015. When Nintendo’s profits were flagging in 2014, Iwata took a massive voluntary pay cut in order to avoid layoffs. He was joined by other Nintendo executives who also took substantial pay cuts to preserve employees, including the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto.
This isn’t the first time that Kotick has rankled gamers. In 2009, the CEO incited controversy when he told investors it was his goal to “take all the fun out of making video games.”
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