Controversial gaming figure Bobby Kotick departs Activision Blizzard, new gaming titan emerges

One of the most controversial figures in gaming, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, will resign on Friday after a mega-merger with Microsoft and the settling of a multi-million dollar lawsuit with employees.   

Within the video game industry, Activision Blizzard CEO Kotick is often portrayed as the arch-villain.   

"Bobby Kotick cannot help being the absolute worst," said video game streamer Yongyea.

His three-decade tenure at the company that made Call of Duty and World of Warcraft ends the same month the company reached a $50 million settlement over claims of widespread discrimination against female staff.   

New Zealand Game Developers Association Chair Carl Leduc said "games are such a diverse community that I think it was inevitable that a company like Activision Blizzard would face scrutiny.  

"It's great that people are brought to light that aren't such a positive influence on the industry."  

Wāhine game makers in New Zealand said Kotick's departure is a chance for gaming to embrace diversity.  

"Change is overdue, it's not going to happen overnight," co-founder of Mighty Eyes Studios Samantha Ramlu said.

"We'll see that happening slowly, but we need more females and others diverse groups actually speaking more in this space and being heard, but there is still just so much work to be done." 

Kotick's tenure ending also caps a tumultuous year for the gaming industry, with thousands of layoffs across the globe and a spree of studio closures and acquisitions.   

"It's been a crazy year for video games, not a week goes by without a news article," said Ramlu.

"It’s almost a shock when there isn't a news article about something happening.  

"The whole industry in New Zealand is looking out, thinking 'what is next' so you can't go a week without seeing some massive layoff at some large company and we can’t help but feel those effects."  

Despite the controversies, Kotick's legacy with be shepherding Activision Blizzard through a $100 billion acquisition by Microsoft, creating a new titan in the gaming industry.   

"Such a massive company now owning so much property and intellectual property and developing that, that's going to have an impact on the other studios, but it also means that the space and the industry will be taken even more seriously," said Ramlu.   

As a post-Kotick era dawns, whether the premiere gaming company's culture will level up alongside its profit margin remains to be seen.