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Activision CEO Bobby Kotick gets introspective at DICE, shares business regrets


Wearing a zippered pullover, jeans and not looking at all like the CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick delivered a deliberately human speech at DICE today. Part autobiographical story about his start in the games business, part contrition, the Kotick who spoke at DICE conveyed the sense of a misunderstood über executive with a business to run, admitting that he's made mistakes during his time. Surprisingly, Kotick admitted that although he doesn't play very many games today (because it would affect his responsibilities), he still has callouses from playing Defender back in the day and he still wakes up in the middle of the night and sees the words like "Open door with gate key."

For his anecdotes of business regret, Kotick reiterated the story of missing out on buying Blizzard for $7 million, and it turns out he had another opportunity pre-World of Warcraft to buy it for $700 million -- the final price tag was considerably more. He also mentioned missing out on buying Maxis while Will Wright was working on "Jefferson," which eventually turned out to be mega-franchise The Sims. Another acquisition that could have gone quite differently was that when Activision was looking at purchasing Guitar Hero from RedOctane, he stated that he didn't look in Harmonix's direction, which he felt was "somewhat a failed developer of music games." Kotick alluded that had he taken the trip to Boston to meet Harmonix, the "world of Guitar Hero would have been rewritten."

The softer side of Kotick also took the opportunity today to clarify his oft-quoted "take all the fun out of making video games" statement. He explained that at the time he was trying to be humorous talking to investors and was just trying to express that the company was fiscally responsible and has a "commitment to excellence." However, even as Kotick brought the love, he stayed clear of mentioning the recent layoffs, capping his presentation with the announcement of the indie games competition.

[Image credit: Elisabeth Caren]

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