Activision's Boss Got An 800% Raise, And A Watchdog Doesn't Like It

Activision has a lot of money. Bobby Kotick has fat stacks, too. The publisher's CEO saw his compensation jump from $US8.1 million in 2011 to $US64.9 million in 2012, reports Bloomberg. He's the second-highest paid CEO among publicly traded US companies.

Kotick is due for another $US16 million if the company hits performance targets, too. The bulk of his pay came in the form of stock awards valued at $US55.9 million. (Though they vest over the next five years, they're reported now.) A corporate governance consultant has had a beef with Activision's executive pay in the past, and this doesn't make her any happier.

“We don’t like any element of this pay package,” Nell Minow, of GMI Ratings, told Bloomberg. "In the past we have expressed concern about this company and its compensation practices."

Minow said Activision isn't being clear about how Kotick earned the money. "The lack of information provided by the compensation committee is a red flag," she told Bloomberg. "It’s very difficult to discern how they determined this compensation package from the information that’s been provided." She said the stock awards aren't sufficiently tied to Kotick's performance and said the whole compensation package is out of line with the video game industry.

It doesn't just make Kotick the highest paid CEO in games publishing, it puts him second only to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in executive compensation for 2012, Bloomberg said. Neither Activision nor its majority owner, Vivendi, responded to their requests for comment.

Activision’s Kotick Gets 8-Fold Raise Reaching Top Tier [Bloomberg]

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    And yet we have so much poverty in the world /o\

      Great point, and to bring it closer to home, so many dev studios being closed down due to poor upper management practices.

      What of it? Life has never been, and never will be fair. Youll only get depressed by thinking about it too much. Besides, Activision isnt responsible. Cheer up and call their shareholders silly names for agreeing to this insane package.

        "Life isn't fair" is what jerks use to justify being jerks.

        Not calling you a jerk, just a general rule of thumb

          There are millions around the planet that starve every day. While you're spending $50 on a video game somewhere on the planet a mother watches her child starve to death. The starving third world population make little distinction difference between Bobby Kotick's millions and your thousands, in their eyes it's a life of excess, more incredible than they'll ever know. The fact that you use drinkable water to wash dirt from your car while millions dehydrate isn't fair. To the enslaved or war ridden or destitute or famine plagued, there is little difference between the opulent lifestyle of Kotick or your own. The bottom line is the millions go without basic necessities while you and I have more than we could possibly need to live. Life is not fair and it doesn't make you a jerk for realising it. You can pretend to care all you want but the truth is you don't really mean it.

          Last edited 29/04/13 6:16 pm

            I was preparing a comment about how I have spent several years homeless and/or living on donations from my local church and donate around 12% of my annual pay to charity and time and clearly care etc but now I realize there is just no reasoning with some people.

            Feel free to use your ridiculous reasoning to justify that "there is so much bad in the world that we shouldn't even try".

            Last edited 29/04/13 6:51 pm

              And I spent 10 years of my life as a missionary, dragging my family around the planet, raising my kids of food stables in a bus. But here I am typing this on an ipad while people somewhere in the world someone is starving. I'm not saying we shouldn't try, but we shouldn't pretend our luxuries aren't more important than other people's lives. And we shouldn't pretend that Bobby Kotick is somehow bad for earning so much money while there's poverty in the world.

            I agree with everything you said except the last line.

        If you continue with that defeatist attitude life will NEVER be fair for you.

    How can you not hate this asshole?

      It takes a pitch black soul... a very, pitch black soul...

      We're all too busy hating EA

        I still don't get why everyone hates EA so much. Sure, SimCity, but Diablo was just as bad and on top of that you get cretins like Bobby Kotick. $US8.1 to $US64.9 million? Outside the blockbuster and tiny indie scene, the game industry is rotting on the vine. The fact that one man got this raise and mid-level studios are shutting down all over the place is nauseating.

        Last edited 28/04/13 6:20 pm

          People hate EA because it's fun to hate EA. People are still buying EA games so EA is still getting loads of money. People keep buying Call of Duty so Activision is still getting loads of money. In the end, it's supposed to be the customers driving what makes money. If you really hate something, don't support it in any way. That's the big problem: people show a lot of hate towards EA and Bobby Kotick and all the other pricks in the industry, but people keep giving them money.
          So in short, I agree with you. The system is flawed.

          Well, I think there's still plenty of hate to go around for Diablo (anyone wanna take bets on how well D4 will do? Gonna hazard a guess it'll still be always-online, but no auction house), and Activision. (Note. D3's under Activision's umbrella. So. You're really hating the same thing, probably.)

          See: Star Wars: The Old Republic.

            TOR died because the initial player base didn't renew. I was there the whole time and the game itself wasn't bad, it was a smoother launch than most MMOs. It was just an impossible task to launch something and meet expectation for a non-WoW. It took WoW goddamn ages to get decent PvP battlegrounds going but people demanded it in TOR from day one because... WoW. Ditto with a flourishing AH, more raid content, tiered sets, etc.

            I think history has treated TOR unkindly. EA did more-or-less what they could have, and went above and beyond the call of duty by running Aussie servers after user feedback. As much as I love SC2 and WoW, even Blizzard has never bothered with us. There's a lot of shit you can throw at EA, but TOR was a good thing for us, that didn't work out.

              But they then took 7 months to give us a response on the APAC population issue (during that that time many, MANY people left due to the dwindling numbers and inability to get group finder pops) and when they finally asked us for our solution, they ignored it and chose to close the servers anyway. They wouldn't even admit that it was a cost-cutting measure. Instead, they told us that it was what we wanted.

              How can you defend a company that makes those sorts of decisions?

      He's got one of the most punchable faces in the industry, combined with a horrifying level of greed and general lack of ethics. What's not to hate?

      Honestly, I have always considered Activision as bad, if not worse than EA, depending on how personally slighted I am feeling that day.

      For all the Bullfrogs EA has reclaimed and not used the properties of*, Activision will always have Kotick, the man who literally said "I want to take the fun out of making games". EA has no face. I guess they have their CEOs and their COOs but Activision has Kotick, that smug fuck with his shit eating grin.

      *And yes, Activision have also taken in companies and fucked them over. Perhaps the biggest example is Blizzard? They claim that the companies are still essentially separate, but Blizzard do still have to answer to some Activision guy, ultimately [citation needed].
      Would Starcraft 2 have been 3 separate games if Blizzard never merged? We can't say for sure.

    Seriously, when you have that much money, you're at the point where you could just walk away and never need to do anything again, ever after one years work. The fortune he will accrue from his 'work' will leave him one of the worlds richest men...

    I have respect for the men and women who gain their mega-fortunes then decide to give back (tax breaks or not), such as Gates, Zuckerburg and Buffet (check it out, Zuckerburg gave 500m in 2012)

    For some reason, I just can't see Kotick doing this... I hope he proves me wrong and does something with his fortune to help those less fortunate at some point. Not to say he has to give his whole fortune away or anything, just to gain a sense of self.

    Last edited 28/04/13 12:15 pm

      Kotick is more likely to spend that money making the games industry worse and more profitable than he is to do something charitable.

      Last edited 28/04/13 1:47 pm

        Destroying the games industry IS charitable, when our only choice is whether or not to pay $200 to play always online monthly iterations of Call Of Duty (CoD: April 2014 with special easter egg hunt mode [available as separate DLC]!), think of all the free time we'll suddenly have!

          A mercy killing, you propose.
          Except doing it his way is like choking an elephant to death with a length of powercord.
          Slow, painful, why would you choose this method?

            Well it worked well enough on Jabba the hutt...

            Ugh... that's just brought to mind the image of kotick in a slave leia costume... I need to wash my brain now

              Great, now everyone who reads that will see it too.
              What have you done?!


              You may have been a good exec, but now you're bantha fodder.

      I'd just like to note that Zuckerberg and Buffet will probably never pay tax ever, ever again with the way they've arranged their finances (

      Gates is a different story, with his massive contributions to charity. I honestly wouldn't mind if that's all tax deductable, as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is awesome. They're trying to run performance-indexed charity like a business. It's an incredible idea.

      I don't really see what Kotick could possibly do for that company that would be worth a personal salary of $64.9mil.

        Indeed and absolutely. Gates is ten steps above both the other two. What he's doing is taking stock of his life and working to now better the lives of others in a genuine fashion. Something not many people do. Obviously there was ulterior motives for Zuckerburg and Buffet, there's no doubt their charity comes from a more selfish area.

        However, when it comes down to it, they're technically not doing anything WRONG there as such... not that I endorse something like this. I believe when you have that much money you should be taxed on it for the rest of your natural life to some extent.

          With all respect to the Gates' charitable works, it's just a pity that the Gates fortune was built by abusing the Microsoft monopoly in so many ways. (I don't even have to say "allegedly" here - it's been proven multiple times in court, and another instance is working its way through the courts now.)

            Who really cares in that respect though. The good he's doing right now far *far* outweighs any bad he did in that world. Plus, the 'bad' he did in that world is subjective. I don't think the man was a saint in the business world? But what he's doing right now? Is amazing.

              *Replaces references of Bill Gates with Tony Stark*

    If I was a multi millionaire I would be investing in solar power to help get our society off the grid and become independent with energy.

      And this is why you'll never be a millionaire/billionaire... because you're thinking of the betterment of mankind and not the selfish nature of most of those assholes...

      Or a metric tonne of cocaine. It's cheaper in bulk!

        Didn't anyone learn from Scarface D=


            Thinking about others? What a selfish act you're taking part of there!

    With kinda of money, i could probably afford 3 highclass hookers for a year and still by half of my hometown

    Whats He even done?Call of duty and Warcraft pretty much run themselves, so that only leaves Skylanders and Blizzards other output.
    I mean sure He has owned a large part of Activision for 20 odd years but come on.

    a) Activision makes a tonne of money
    b) they should return those profits as dividends to shareholders
    c) Is this simply because Kotick is the biggest shareholder (a lot of Exec's pay is tied to stock in order to incentivise their performance)
    d) While it's disheartening to think of the trail of companies Kotick has left in his wake (Radical, Neversoft, those Blur guys, those Bond guys, Luxoflux - at least they don't hammer gamers with micro transactions and DRM schemes or shitty mobile crapfests (although they have started the online pass BS) so they're automatically better than EA at the moment.

      Kotick is a carpetbagger. He doesn't know squat about games, he just knows how to squeeze blood from a stone by identifying potential revenue streams like shitty peripherals or DLC subscriptions. He'll milk fans till they're dry then move onto the next potential cash cow, leaving dessicated husks like Guitar Hero or Tony Hawk. I don't want to be dramatic and call him the worst thing that happened to videogames, but he's about as close as you can get.

      As far as I can tell if the company hits x target he gets give a huge chunk of new shares. So it isn't that he is the largest shareholder, more that they are making him a much larger shareholder only due to the fact he is CEO

    Holy shit, unless something miraculous happens, I'll never earn that much money in my entire life. What a lucky guy, my girlfriend and I would never have to work again if we didn't want to, and have millions to spare to help family, friends, and people in need. So much money dude... For every 1 in 10 people that are struggling, there should be 9 people who can help lift them up... So much wealth that isn't shared, but its just how it is

    Honestly, unless your responsibility as CEO means you lose your house when things turn sour - and this never happens, they just get golden handshakes- hr does not deserve that kind of money.

      This, the pay does not in anyway equate the level of responsibility or talent required.

    You know the picture of him just makes it worse...where's the dislike button on articles!

    Not the first time something like this has happened. Same story with the electricity. The bills go up. The CEO is shown on tv building his mansion and a report on how he got 20 mil bonus he got. I've given up on humanity a long time ago in terms of things like this.

    At what point do you just say "That's it, I've got enough money, I don't need any more, someone else should take over now". Fairs fair, everyone should get a turn.

    I mean, even if he lived off of a million a year, he aint got another 64 years left in him. And a mil a year is a pretty luxurious lifestyle...

      But have you seen the running costs of private jets?

    Ok, I'm calling it, I'm going to be 'one of those guys':


    Not sure that I have bought an activision title for 10 years anyway

      I rent the COD's when they come out for one night. Finish them in one sitting, usually 5 hours, then return them. *shrug* Haven't bought a COD since COD4. Which I do stand by actually being a decent game.

        COD4 was awesome. Yet they only milked 1 DLC pack out of it.

        Ahh, the good old days.

        Last edited 29/04/13 6:02 pm

          It was! I enjoyed the HELL out of the multiplayer, this was basically before COD degraded into what Halo2 and 3 already were online, not to mention the campaign had so many memorable moments. (Dat Sniper shot... Dat oil tanker... Dat shot to the face at the beginning...)

          I dare say COD4 was the highest moment for the Call of Duty series since COD2 (which I thought was phenomenal in its own right) but also the jumping off moment for Infinity Wards mediocrity to begin. Personally I also adored World at War, though a bit repetitive, it had a campaign twice the length of COD4 and.... NAZI ZOMBIES!

    Jesus Christ, that's a lot of money.

    In my entire career (assuming another 40 years of work and an average of 5% increase in wages each year), I will earn a grand total of about $9.5m (which in 40 years, will be worth less than it is now!), about 15% of what this guy earned in one year. And I'm pretty well paid.

    Last edited 29/04/13 12:30 pm

      Dayum, you either make $273,000 a year or my math be broke.

        Shane: How's the *cough* 'coffee' business these days... is 'import/export' tough? ;)

        Yup, your maths is broke. I'm on about $75k at the moment, but compounding by 5% each year means that my salary in 40 years would be about half a million dollars.

          Yeahhhh I ignored that part because it made my brain go pop :(

    You'll have to forgive me if I find means of obtaining games of the "Call Of Duty" franchise without paying money then...
    Sorry, but this really is terrible business decisions at its finest. Think of how many good games they could produce instead of impregnating a fat cats' wages...

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