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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Viewpoint: Microsoft’s latest purchase offers CEO too much mercy

Microsoft’s latest purchase offers CEO too much mercy. Photo courtesy Rezaie Mohammad/Unsplash
Microsoft’s latest purchase offers CEO too much mercy.
Photo courtesy Rezaie Mohammad/Unsplash

JOSÉ ROMERO
Editor-in-chief
collegian.editor@tccd.edu

Another day, another $68.7 billion spent by Microsoft.

Announced Jan. 18, it’s planning on acquiring Activision Blizzard, one of the largest video game companies in the industry. In doing so, it would gain the rights of franchises like “Overwatch” and “Call of Duty.” Ideally, this seems like a great purchase for Microsoft since Activision Blizzard’s IPs are money-generating titans. “Call of Duty: Warzone” alone amassed over 100 million players in 2021, according to the game’s Twitter account. 

But, this isn’t just a beneficial move for Microsoft. Activision Blizzard’s reputation has taken a gigantic hit due to seemingly never-ending controversies. 

Last July, it was sued by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing because it created a culture with constant sexual harassment. Female employees compared working there to a frat house, which is not what you want from a professional environment. Unfortunately, this isn’t something uncommon in the videogame industry. Other large companies like Ubisoft and Riot Games have faced similar lawsuits, but those didn’t get a lifesaver thrown to them by Microsoft. 

In a recent interview with GamesBeat lead writer Dean Takahashi, CEO of Activision Blizzard Bobby Kotick — emphasis on the “tick” — discussed some of the reasons for selling, other than the soft exit, of course. He essentially said it was due to the changing gaming landscape and all the new technology coming with it. According to him, Activision Blizzard doesn’t have the resources for the pursual of things like AI and machine learning, so selling to Microsoft seemed like the best choice. When Takahashi asked if it was also because of the sexual harassment investigation, Kotick shrugged it off as if it’s just another small factor that affects stock price. He ignores the human factor entirely, offering a lack of empathy, which is expected from a CEO that makes millions of dollars off of overworked employees. 

It hurts immensely to see a lack of comeuppance for Kotick. He’s going to walk away with a Scrooge-esque bag of money and on his own terms even though, in November, over 1,000 employees signed a petition asking for his removal. But the change of leadership does offer an opportunity. 

The acquisition potentially means employees will no longer be under the steel-toed boots of Kotick. Working conditions and the culture can change for the better. Activision Blizzard’s reputation could finally stand next to the titles it produces. 

But, that’s only if Microsoft does what’s necessary and gets rid of him. As of right now, there is no official confirmation about what is to happen to Kotick. Even worse, the head of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, praised him in an investor call, saying he’s “grateful to his leadership and commitment to real culture change.” Uh, what the hell? 

The juxtaposition between Nadella’s statement and CEO of Microsoft Gaming Phil Spencer’s is intriguing. Last November, Spencer spoke to his staff and said he was “disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions.” I guess it no longer becomes troubling to have a relationship with the company as long as you can put its games on your service. 

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