“Bobby [Kotick]’s decisions made our games worse,” a former Call of Duty programmer said on social media the same day Kotick completed his final day as CEO at Activision Blizzard.
“I worked on [Call of Duty] for two years as a programmer at Demonware. Bobby’s decisions made our games worse,” said Christina Pollock. “In my first month, it came out he threatened to have an employee killed. In the all-hands [all staff meeting] that followed, no one wanted to speak first. So I demanded his firing in front of everyone.”
In a candid thread on Twitter/X, Pollock said: “I get that I am very loud and very annoying and that with my seniority and ease of other opportunities, that affords me certain protections and safety to do such things.
“But you all need to get on board this train. We all need to revolt against people like this, every time,” they added.
i worked on COD for two years as a programmer at demonware
bobby’s decisions made our games worse
in my first month it came out he threatened to have an employee killed. in the all-hands that followed, no-one wanted to speak first. so i demanded his firing in front of everyone https://t.co/yhlM5xqPPgAdvertisement
— christina 死神 (@chhopsky) December 29, 2023
“If I’d been fired, I had several other companies hovering in the wings, but that is why it is on senior staff to dig their heels in. Juniors will not feel safe doing that until their leaders do it first. We may not have unions, but we do have power if we work together.
“Ask the loud annoying question in the all-hands, make it short, direct, to the point, and leave no room for waffling in response. Make it sharp, direct, and do it with clarity and without anger so they can’t attack your delivery.
“They won’t answer, but everyone will see it.”
Pollock confirmed that “Demonware protected [them]” from reprisal but acknowledged that other studios may not, saying: “Write down what you said. Keep notes in case HR pings you. Record yourself saying it in the meeting if you can so that you have evidence of exactly what happened, because pissweak executives will take their exposed failure personally.”
“If seniors don’t speak up where juniors cannot, any junior worth while will be gone at the first chance,” confirmed another developer. “Management like this destroys a company’s future workforce.”
Pollock isn’t the only developer talking openly about Kotick’s impact on the organisation, either. As spotted by PCGN, community manager Andy Belford also spoke up about how Kotick’s decision-making affected morale.
“Breaking my silence to share a fun fact: when we planned Overwatch 2’s Steam launch, my team warned (months in advance) that we were going to be review bombed. We begged for more information, more details, and more resources to help us with the anticipated influx, all flatly denied,” Belford said.
Moderation of steam was put on the community team (not a function of community at Blizz), despite my refusal to want to expose members of my team to that level of toxic content/posts. When asked whose decision it was to launch on Steam with no additional help: Bobby
— Andy Belford (he/him) 💙 (@andybelford) December 29, 2023
“Moderation of Steam was put on the community team (not a function of community at Blizzard), despite my refusal to want to expose members of my team to that level of toxic content/posts. When asked whose decision it was to launch on Steam with no additional help: Bobby.
“This is only one example of the culture Kotick bred at AB: shit flowed downstream, usually landing on the lowest-paid and most overworked individuals. Management was too busy reacting to wildly vacillating direction and decisions that made zero sense.
“At the end of everything, player experience/worker meant nothing to CSuite and exec leadership. It was all about that quarter’s earnings call,” Belford added.
Microsoft announced its Activision Blizzard buyout bid in January 2022, following a turbulent period for the publisher after it was rocked by reports of employee misconduct and subsequent calls for Kotick to depart. Now, more than two years on from that time, Activision Blizzard will be starting the new year fully under new management.