How much Activision does it take to change a Blizzard?


If you made $10 billion last year, you better make $12 billion this year or else the investors are going to flee.

It is worse than that - if you made $10 billion last year, you had better make what the financial brokers EXPECT or estimate you to make this year or else they will punish you by fleeing the stock.

You could make $12 billion and they expected $12.5 billion and they will flee - and actually it is more based on earnings per share than raw dollar amounts.


It’s is indeed ironic that it’s actually better to find a niche where you make a decent, but not crazy, amount of money, than to make an insane buttload of it.

The first generation of people in a company actually care about making a product, or providing a service, whether it’s their passion or it’s just something they fell into. But make enough money, and now the buzzards arrive, with their offer of extra capital for expansion – at a cost. Soon enough, the company is transformed into a money-making machine, compared to every other money-making machine. Every person who cared about the actual thing the company was meant to do either leaves, is bought out, or is fired. And the ‘owners’ of the company - assuming it’s public - only care about extracting money from it as well.



Blizzard has people working in publishing? Like, novels and toys and such for their own properties, I guess?

Regarding Jim Sterling, he’s extremely sharp and I typically agree with his take of the day, but his schtick can be grating.


I don’t agree. Decent money attracts “buzzards” proportionally—probably the buzzards who were rejected from the crazy rich company. You only need a few bad people entrenched at a small company to ruin it. It does take different skills to kick 300 buzzards out than to kick 3 out, though.


Again, I see people conflating growth investor strategy with the market as a whole as some sort of indictment against capitalism.

Ask Warren Buffet what he thinks about growth stocks. Ask Coca Cola if they are at a point where they care about earnings growth. You won’t see them cutting jobs for the sake of growth.

The problem again is that we focus so much on tech companies where growth is the objective, but their market positions no longer support that strategy.

Activision is operating as a value company but appeasing growth investors. They are foundationally disorganized.


Yeah, I agree with that assessment. They have a strong portfolio. It’s among the strongest in all of gaming. They should not be treating their business like they are on edge of disaster.


Who says they are?

Maybe the “publishing” business at Blizzard was exclusively people dealing with Destiny 2 and Call of Duty in the app, and they simply aren’t needed anymore because Activision (correctly) decided that was a stupid idea?

And the esports side, maybe that just wasn’t seen as worthwhile to continue? I certainly don’t give a shit about it.


Seems like this sort of thing though is part for the course in the business world. I seriously doubt shareholders (the ones that matter that is) will bat an eyelid.

Also, in reference to nothing in particular, I’m wondering how folks can be so sure that it’s a matter of evil Activision imposing its evil on innocent Blizzard. It’s also quite possible that the folks leading Blizzard are just as much involved. At least insofar as the Blizzard folks who made the decision years ago to sell to Activision must have known the sort of road they were setting out on, it’s hard to paint them as innocents.


This would be my first thought as well. As much as it looks like Blizzard is showing some bad signs of falling apart, it’s completely possible they staffed up for parts of their business that isn’t really needed any more. I don’t keep up much with what’s hot in esports, but they seem to have made a push to put Overwatch, Heart of the Storm, and (to a lesser degree) WoW up there. From the outside, it appears WoW is continuing to wane, and they’re closing Heart of the Storm’s esports, so maybe a lot of these folks are from there? I have no idea how Overwatch is doing, but the competition keeps growing in that field.


The thrust of the thread-starting article was a recap of how Activision has replaced the decision-makers at Blizzard over the last year or so with their execs. That’s not to say the remaining Blizzard folks didn’t march in step with the new leaders, but the article does talk about how that change impacted the culture at Blizzard, including financial decisions.


Well yes, the CEO left and people were all flustered over that, then Activision was much more heavy-handed. They let Blizzard do its thing when WoW had 15+ million subscribers and they kept churning out hits like Hearthstone and Overwatch, but HoTS failing and both Hearthstone and Overwatch fading transformed it into a what have you done for me lately type situation.

Remember, Activision is run by Bobby Kotick. He doesn’t give a shit about gaming. He could be selling tampons or windshield wipers and his approach would not differ.

That said, it’s unclear what the hell Blizzard publishes, and esports for fading titles doesn’t seem like a revenue generator, if it indeed ever was. So cutting those divisions isn’t a crazy thing to do.


If the allegations from the blog post that Kerzain linked above are accurate, then I won’t be shedding tears for layoffs in the esports division.


You mean Vivendi, who sold their entire gaming division (that also included things like Sierra)?


I watch a lot of Hearthstone tourneys. I enjoy them so much I wound up spending money on cards. If they kill those, that game is going to go into serious decline.


That’s just one side of the story, the allegations actually aren’t particularly bad, and the author admits to having serious mental issues.


It was brought up at EA during meetings with shareholders, at least a couple of times I was there for.

So eyelids are batted occasionally.


I feel terrible for colleagues losing their jobs.

I also see this weeks commentary as yet more completely pro Blizzard bias.

Really not comfortable with a developer whose success is based around ripping off other peoples work being held up as such a wonderful grail for others to aspire to. They also had the freedom to hire whoever and however many they wanted and take as much time as they felt they needed. Now the business has caught up with them blame is being pointed not at Blizzard mismanagement but at Activision, which gave them so much freedom.

Activision also has a great many very talented developers losing their jobs but they are painted as the lesser victims next to the white knights of Blizzard.

ok snark done. I do feel bad for folks at both places.


There’s definitely something to be said about today’s investors and the, primarily, men who run these companies that a successful, profitable company that gives a reasonable return to investors is not good enough.

I also don’t understand why Jim has to be gross all the time.


Are they any more guilty of “ripping off other peoples work” than anyone else in the industry?