When Clippy became part of Warcraft

FThe news from the “Wall Street Journal” was like an earthquake for the video game industry: Microsoft is buying the ailing company Activision Blizzard for almost 69 billion dollars and with this still quite strong video game brands such as “World of Warcraft”, “Diablo” and “Call of duties”. Microsoft is thus growing into the third largest video game company in the world and should not only displace the Japanese video game giant Nintendo, but also become a threat to the current market leader Sony Interactive Entertainment.

On the consumer side, there was then, in addition to some astonishment and even more end-time fantasies, the expected meme festival, which was primarily associated with the Microsoft Word assistant “Clippy”, the flexible and helpful paper clip Comeback in allerlei „Warcraft“-Kontexten helped.

Sagt adieu: Robert A. Kotick

Sagt adieu: Robert A. Kotick

Image: Reuters

On the entrepreneurial side, meanwhile, PR smokescreens were ignited properly, which above all covered up the handling of the controversial Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick. His company had recently come under criticism due to an allegedly toxic corporate culture and allegations of abuse after employees had made numerous cases of sexual harassment public, which had been swept under the carpet in the company for years, even at the highest level. In July 2021, the state of California filed charges against the company for the above reasons.

A Microsoft press release initially said Kotick would remain at the helm of Activision Blizzard and would report to Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s gaming division, after the deal was closed. Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreier posted one on Twitter on Tuesday Excerpt from an email from Kotick to his employees. In it, Kotick writes, among other things: “I will continue as our CEO with the same passion and enthusiasm that I had when I started this incredible journey in 1991.” of his employees, “connecting the world through joy and fun cannot be overestimated”. And Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said he was grateful for Kotick’s “leadership and commitment to real cultural change.”

But the ballast that Kotick carries around with him probably didn’t really want to be whitewashed, because on the same day research by the „Wall Street Journal“ announced that both sides had long since agreed that Kotick would leave the company as soon as the deal was closed. According to Bloomberg journalist Dina Bass, Microsoft looked closely at the difficult situation Activision Blizzard was in and wondered if Kotick might be willing to accept an offer he couldn’t refuse. At first, Kotick didn’t want to sell, rather he waited to see whether a competitor might outbid Microsoft. Allegedly he even hoped on Facebook. Ultimately, however, he was unable to convince the board of directors.

Bobby Kotick is trying to do one thing above all: to avoid the impression that someone who has been at the helm of the company for thirty years is having to sell his life’s work because of allegations of abuse. From the online portal “GamesBeat” asked about itwhether the investigation played a role because of the allegations of abuse, which after all had influenced the share price of his company, Kotick replied: He believes that the postponed release dates of blockbuster games such as “Diablo 4” and “Overwatch 2” are to blame and that the new “Call of Duty” is not doing very well. Of course, the abuse allegations would also have influenced the price, “but stocks go up and down for many different reasons.” He believes that the $95 per share Microsoft is now paying “is a great deal for our shareholders.”

And not just for them: the long-time Activision boss would earn a lot from it himself. His approximately four million Activision Blizzard shares would bring him about $380 million if Microsoft stayed at the agreed $95 a share.

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