Known as Bobby Kotick to friends and business associates alike, Robert Kotick began his auspicious and successful business career while still in college. It was at the University of Michigan in 1983, where Kotick was studying art history, that he first began to develop computer software for an up and coming computer company known as Apple.
His first meeting with Steve Jobs was a memorable one, with Jobs questioning Kotick on the choice of subject matter for his major. Not one to mince words, Jobs stated emphatically that art history and, in fact, college in general were not pursuits that were conducive to a successful career in business. Whether it was solely Jobs’ trenchant analysis of his life choices or simply a coincidence in timing, Kotick left college behind without finishing his degree, focusing instead on his aspirations in business.
While at college, Kotick had the backing of Steve Wynn, who gave financial support to his software production. His endeavors were successful enough to give him the financial fortitude to attempt the acquisition of Commodore International. Kotick was convinced of a rather visionary idea that removing certain components from the company’s Amiga computer model, such as the keyboard, would streamline the system and produce the first true 16-bit gaming system. Unfortunately, the then CEO, Irving Gould, did not share this vision and he refused to give Kotick control of the company.
Turning to a division of Nintendo known as Leisure Concepts instead, Kotick bought a controlling stake in the company. Three years later, in 1990, Kotick joined forces with his business associate Brian Kelly to purchase 25 percent of Activision Blizzard. A year later, Kotick was CEO.
Known for producing blockbuster games that lead sales their particular gaming genres and push the envelope of innovation, Activision Blizzard was responsible under Kotick for two of the most famous gaming titles in software history, World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. Under Kotick’s direction, the company went from a little-known software producer to a household name, an industry leader and a company worth 12 billion dollars.
An avid champion of his customers’ rights, Kotick used his extensive leverage to force companies, such as Sony, to lower the price of gaming hardware. In 2009, feeling that the price of the Playstation 3 was simply too high for the average consumer to acquire, Kotick told Sony his company would stop producing games for the console until the price came down. Sony folded to his demands and lowered the price of their hardware, much to the gratification of gamers everywhere.
The gaming industry is changing rapidly as the push for casual online gaming from venues such as Facebook seek to dominate a market that has traditionally catered to at-home gamers willing to invest a substantial amount of money in gaming hardware and software devices. Kotick, as an industry visionary, recognizes these challenges to his gaming empire still lie ahead, as he seeks to keep his business interests viable in an ever changing-marketplace of ideas.