UPDATE: EA Responds To Kotick's Criticisms
UPDATE: Jeff Brown, vice president of communications at EA, wasn't too happy with disparaging comments made by Activision's Bobby Kotick. In response to Kotick's criticisms, Brown offered some choice words of his own.
"Kotick's relationship with studio talent is well documented in litigation," said Brown. "His company is based on three game franchises – one is a fantastic persistent world he had nothing to do with; one is in steep decline; and the third is in the process of being destroyed by Kotick's own hubris."
Now those are fighting words! We love seeing company executives sling mud.
Activision and Electronic Arts have been battling to be the biggest third-party publisher/developer on the block, and Activision CEO has thrown down some fighting words at EA.
Talking to Edge Magazine, Kotick criticized EA's internal development structure and the way it acquires studios and folds them into the larger EA body.
"EA will buy a developer and then it will become ‘EA Florida,’ ‘EA Vancouver,’ ‘EA New Jersey,’ whatever. We always looked and said, 'You know what? What we like about a developer is that they have a culture, they have an independent vision, and that’s what makes them so successful.' We don’t have an Activision anything – it’s Treyarch, Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer. That, to me, is one of the unassailable rules of building a publishing company. And in every case except for two, the original founders of the studios are still running the studios today. The only thing that we try to do is to provide a support structure to make them more successful. If you do a really good job – and a lot of our studios do – you get to pick what is, in my view, the most difficult thing to pick in the industry: to make original intellectual property."
Also, Kotick believes that EA's structure trickles down and has an adverse effect on hiring and keeping talent.
"...We have no shortage of opportunity to recruit out of EA – that's their biggest challenge: its stock options have no value. It's lost its way. And until it has success, and hits, and gets that enthusiasm back for the company, it's going to have a struggle getting really talented people, which is going to translate into less-than-great games."
We don't know what goes on behind the scenes at either EA or Activision, but it's interesting that Kotick thinks EA's structure saps the creativity of the studios involved. What about making Neversoft do nothing but Guitar Hero games? What about creating a whole Call of Duty arm of your company? Perhaps Activision's deal with Bungie and how the ex-Halo maker feels about being under the Activision umbrella will prove whether the proof's in the pudding.