Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard (ABK), hasn’t been earning laurels for quite some time now, even before all the scandal and controversies involving him and ABK as a whole. Gaming fans have long been criticizing Bobby for what he’s done to their favorite titles in terms of monetization but have been outright dismissive of him ever since the investigations unearthed more dirt than a construction site excavator. In fact, the whole industry now thinks of him as the dictionary definition of the term “scumbag” — and the DICE Awards show host wasn’t afraid to say it out loud.
According to Kotaku, the opening segment of DICE Awards, the video game industry’s equivalent of Academy Awards, went as one might expect — generally in good spirits. Bethesda executive Todd Howard opened the Awards with a monologue about the current worldwide saturation regarding the pandemic and ongoing conflicts in Eurasia. He also mentioned a few prominent games on the current market, some of which actually saved a life, before handing the stage over to Greg Miller, who took it upon himself to call out Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick.
Admittedly, the calling out needed an introduction, so Miller joked about Cyberpunk 2077, Metroid Dread, and the influence of NFTs on the gaming culture and industry. He concluded his presentation by saying “f*ck Bobby Kotick,” which was greeted with claps and cheers from the audience. Given the current sentiment gaming industry and the world harbor towards Activision Blizzard CEO, it’s a small miracle that Miller hasn’t received a standing ovation. Admittedly, gamers have been saying that for years now, but no one ever said it publicly. So, kudos where kudos are due — good job Greg Miller, you made the gaming community proud.
With that said, it’s important to note that Miller has previously stated his intent on using his airtime in front of the industry’s top developers to make some enemies. Not sure how effective this is, considering that the lion is already wounded (figure of speech, not an expression of sympathy for Activision Blizzard CEO), but it did earn Miller a round of applause. It was a critical moment for the gaming industry and the entertainment industry in general, considering that harassment runs rampant in both. Most prominent figures in respective industries usually speak about the current problems, such as misbehavior, abuse, discrimination, etc., without getting into specifics, so it’s rare to see a name attached to the problem.
The Activision Blizzard CEO has been in the headlines for the past year for various reasons, including a report stating that Kotick threatened to kill and assistant via voicemail. He’s also accused of downplaying the gruesome things happening at Activision Blizzard, protecting the perpetrators of sexual harassment and discrimination from getting fired, and partaking in said actions. Hiding those problems inflated ABK’s value on the market, which only increased his yearly bonuses until the word got out, and the company was issued a class-action lawsuit from its investors.
Yet, things are turning for the better in light of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, at least from the gaming perspective. Following the words of acquisition, one of ABK’s largest games, World of Warcraft, received a massive update, while the staff announced that they would permanently ban all player groups offering unsanctioned in-game services, which were presumably linked to several executives over the years. With all of that said, Greg Miller might’ve been the first public figure to openly call Kotick out, and quite possibly make him an example for all future abuse CEOs to see. Justice might not be blind anymore, but it surely isn’t mute.