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Bobby Kotick Traces His Roots, Announces Indie Game Competition

Activision Blizzard’s always outspoken CEO, Bobby Kotick, took the stage at DICE and used his time to talk about the early days of his involvement with the company. Anyone looking for him to make provocative statements left disappointed. Instead, the assembled audience heard a humble Kotick speak candidly about why he does what he does.

Kotick started out by joking that he didn’t know how he went from flying the X-Wing Fighter to being on the Death Star, referencing the shifting opinion that the company has experienced over the past few years.

As Kotick tells it, one of his first moves at Mediagenic was to restore the company’s original name, Activision. When asked by the former head of the company why he wanted to buy Mediagenic, Kotick was stunned by the question. “To be honest with you, I don’t want to own Mediagenic.” He wanted Activision and its pedigree, which had been lost through a series of missteps. In contrast to Atari’s disdainful attitude toward developers in the days of the 2600, the newly formed Activision made a point to reward the people who created games, financially and by crediting developers for their hard work and creativity.

As Activision failed and was rechristened Mediagenic, it had lost much of the magic. Kotick says he wanted to restore the company to its former glory and reestablish the independent thinking and creative spirit that it once had. The discussion between Kotick and the Mediagenic head then migrated over to the then-unreleased Super Nintendo, and Kotick showed off his technical chops. Asked what he knew about the business side of gaming, Kotick talked about his attempts to acquire Commodore with a partner after being wowed by the Amiga 500—an effort that ultimately failed after Kotick said the head of Commodore made it clear that gaming wasn’t something that the company was interested in.

Kotick says he started playing games from an early age, and that it’s something that’s always been interesting to him. While he says that he’s not able to spend as much time with them as a player—citing his addictive personality—he made it clear that gaming is every bit as much a passion to him today as it was when he was younger.

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