Games One is sharing the results of their latest report, which compared the earnings of gaming’s top CEOs. Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, came in second place with $154 million in earnings in 2020. Robert Antokol, CEO of successful free-to-play (F2P) gaming corporation Platika, took first place with over $372 million in compensation through 2020.
If anything positive came out of the pandemic, 2020 was a historically successful time for the gaming industry. To compare how much gaming executives earned during 2020, for the report, Games One analyzed all the data that took into account bonuses and overall share/stock compensation plans in addition to salary.
Bobby Kotick’s Ambitious Beginnings at Blizzard Activision
In 1990, Bobby Kotick bought the company that’s now Activision Blizzard when it was nearly bankrupt. While many considered video games to be a passing fad, Kotick believed the industry was in its infancy and had a lot of profitable potential. He was right. In his nearly 32 years as CEO, Kotick built Activision Blizzard into a company with a market cap of $50.9 billion.
Activision is behind many of the most popular franchises in video game history. Its roster includes Call of Duty, Diablo, Crash Bandicoot, World of Warcraft, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Skylanders, King’s Quest, Destiny, and Candy Crush Saga. Kotick has said he wakes every day thinking about making those hits even more engaging and entertaining to keep customers happy and coming back for future releases. Each new, updated release is a labor of love for Activision Blizzard. “How do you make the games better each year? We need more resources, more time, and our development schedule has to get longer,” Kotick explains. “People criticize me for not being passionate about the products, but I am.”
Activision Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick: The Early Years
Bobby Kotick was born in New York and attended high school in Roslyn, a small town on Long Island. He majored in art history at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he began his video game career. In 1982, Kotick and his friend, Howard Marks, started the electronics company Arktronics Corporation in their dorm room.
Arktronics created a software package named Jane, which cost $295 — in contrast to Apple’s Lisa operating system, which cost $10,000. During his sophomore year of college, Kotick met casino giant Steve Wynn and successfully pitched him on the mission of Arktronics. Wynn was all in and eventually gave Kotick a check for $300,000 to invest in the electronics company after flying Kotick to his Golden Nugget hotel in Atlantic City.
According to Kotick, during the meeting, which took place in the casino’s basement, Wynn wasn’t as excited about making it official with any paperwork, and said “contracts, schmontracks — we’re family now,” recalls Kotick. “I thought, “OK we’re in the basement with a guy who owns casinos who said we’re his family now. We’re going to die.” Of course, they didn’t, and Wynn’s investment paid off. Within 10 years, Wynn’s stock shares made him $31 million. “I sat at my desk speechless,” Wynn recalls.
Bobby Kotick Continues To Strive for Success at Blizzard Activision
In 2008, Kotick led one of the largest video game mergers in industry history. He spearheaded the joining of Activision Inc. with the games division of French telecommunications conglomerate Vivendi. “I like what I’m doing,” Kotick says. “If I didn’t like what I was doing, I’d be doing something else.”
When asked how he’s been able to sustain that level of success over the past few decades, Kotick says, “Well, you know, it’s not that complicated. We’re ruthless prioritizers of opportunity; we don’t get distracted; we know what our business is; we find the best talent. We make sure that we keep our talent focused and not distracted, and we really do a great job of prioritization. You know, that’s sort of the secret to our success.”
On Jan. 18, 2022, Kotick confirmed that Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion cash deal. While Kotick will continue in his role as CEO of Activision Blizzard, once the deal is finalized, all Activision Blizzard dealings will report to the CEO of Microsoft Gaming, Phil Spencer.
Kotick says that over the past 30-plus years, “Our talented teams have created successful games. The combination of Activision Blizzard’s world-class talent and extraordinary franchises with Microsoft’s technology, distribution, access to talent, ambition, vision, and shared commitment to inclusion and gaming will ensure our continued success in an increasingly competitive industry.”