The popular image of Kotick is that of a man who fired Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella in order to rape the company dry, but the rust-dusted nightmare rider says he was the one betrayed. In fact, as Kotick relays his side of the story, one could almost think he were human.
“It shook my belief in two specific people, who were my friends,” says Kotick, who says the IW founders used Activision for personal gain. “The frustrating thing about that is, the stuff that these guys did, I never would have expected them to do. We’re a public company, we’ve got ethics obligations, and the things they did were … I would go to jail if I did them.
“You can’t use the company and the company’s assets for your own personal benefit, and you can’t use the leverage that you might have for personal benefit — you’re not allowed to do that! And so we didn’t have any choice … That’s one of those really difficult decisions as the CEO of a company, where you step back and say, ‘No good is going to come of this. They’re going to leave and probably have a really hard time ever being productive or successful ever again, and we’re going to lose some talented people, and there’s nothing we can do about it.’ And there wasn’t.”
The trouble is, and I’ve said this before, even if Zampella and West were ruthless shits, Activision has already earned its reputation for being the most ruthless shit in the business, so it’s almost impossible to feel any sympathy for Kotick. Sometimes Bobby comes across as hurt at the media portrayal of his character, but maybe he ought to do something other than encourage it.