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Blizzard Breaks For Independence As Kotick Plans $8.2 Billion Dollar Buyout 203

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the world-of-business dept.
MojoKid writes "The CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, announced this morning that he would lead an investor buyout of the company worth approximately $8.2 billion dollars. The move would free Blactivision (how has this moniker never caught on?) to become an independent publisher and free it from the clutches of Vivendi, the evil French entertainment conglomerate. Vivendi has reportedly been attempting to sell Activision Blizzard for years, due to an apparent hatred of actually turning a profit, given than the game developer owns some of the most popular franchises on Earth. Kotick has previously been known for his comments regarding exploiting game franchises and for gems like this: 'We have a real culture of thrift. The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games.'"
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Blizzard Breaks For Independence As Kotick Plans $8.2 Billion Dollar Buyout

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  • by alphatel (1450715) * on Friday July 26, 2013 @08:48AM (#44389933)
    It's true that Researchers Implant False Memories in Mice [slashdot.org] but Activision has implanted Happy Memories in Gamers and erased all bad ones!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Like Hell they have, I was hoping TFA was about Blizzard finally breaking free from Kotick's money-grubbing, DLC-and-franchise-all-the-games!, clutches.
  • by schneidafunk (795759) on Friday July 26, 2013 @08:52AM (#44389959)
    This may be the wrong crowd, but this exactly the kind of move that is to be expected of a CEO who's main job is making money for shareholders. It's not surprising at all, except the heavy bias of TFA.
  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Friday July 26, 2013 @08:54AM (#44389969) Homepage

    Blactivision (how has this moniker never caught on?)

    Because it's fucking stupid. It's fupid.

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Friday July 26, 2013 @08:57AM (#44389987) Homepage Journal

    That exceeded the standard threshold for painfully aspergian jokes and obnoxious editorializing in an article write-up.

    You have one job, Unkown Lamer, one job!

  • different goals (Score:2, Informative)

    by jsepeta (412566)

    I thought his goal was to make games that weren't any fun to _play_. After a couple of hundred hours milling in WoW, I just gave up. Beautiful scenery, ok music, shitty combat system, horrible $160 annual fee for playing online plus $50 for new game options. No fucking thanks.

    • Re:different goals (Score:5, Interesting)

      by intermodal (534361) on Friday July 26, 2013 @09:17AM (#44390135) Homepage Journal

      The two go hand in hand. I've worked in a couple game development houses, and found that the good games we released were all titles we had fun making. Of course, there were fun games to make that we were flops as well, but literally every game that wasn't fun to make, indeed, felt like work to make, felt like work to play.

      A fun game will always be fun to make. If your dev teams ever, EVER reach the point of, "Fuck this shit, I hate my job, kill me now," I promise you the game will be utter garbage.

    • Wholeheartedly agree. Especially in light of Shadowrun Returns launching yesterday, where it's $40 to get the engine and the campaign made by the game producer, and all the tools and editors necessary to make and share your own campaigns on Steam Workshop.

      A great game based in a fantastic universe with over 20 years of development behind it. Funded by Kickstarter.

  • Blizzard's WOW numbers are tanking hard, Diablo 3 preorders where through the roof, but most people abandoned it after playing it once. Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm single player was pretty good, but perhaps a bit expensive for an expansion. They need to do something big if they want to stay relevant.

    They need to take some risks.
    • Were Diablo 3 preorders inflated by Blizzard giving away copies to longtime players of WoW? That's how I got mine.
  • Well Then (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TemperedAlchemist (2045966) on Friday July 26, 2013 @09:01AM (#44390023)

    I've been involved with Blizzard since the early days when they weren't so popular despite being so young. Before WoW, before Warcraft 3. I'm sure there were many people who can go back further, but ever since Starcraft, I've been more than a hardcore fan: I've been a modder. I've probably spent more time on b.net than a person does sleeping in the same time period.

    It kills me to say this, but Blizzard took a turn for the worst ever since Activision acquired them. And oh yeah, that's the problem: Blizzard turns a profit and that's all they seem to care about these days: monetizing and milking the hell out of their franchises. At the expense of the games they're producing. It's a business strategy of money now and let's not worry about the later.

    Well now later has come, and Diablo 3 is complete and utter crap, Starcraft 2 is borderline crap, WoW has turned into little more than a glorified cash cow, and their new big thing was a trading card game (whoo?). They were riding on their popularity and fan base, but now it's just... Ugh. They've shifted over the pro gaming scene, but us modders and level designers have been left in the dark (once again).

    Not only is their EULA damn near totalitarian (they own everything you make with your editor, including characters, plots, etc... At least that's what it says), but the editor is a pile of crap that seems to have been coded by interns.

    As for the actual game itself. Well, it's about three years old at this point and with a GTX Titan and a 4770K Haswell processor you'll still only be pulling around 30-40 FPS with max settings (1280x720, no AA/AS). That's freaking ridiculous and shows just how badly coded the game is.

    I'm moving onto bigger and better things. This French company is quite smart to get rid of the sinking ship.

    • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday July 26, 2013 @09:17AM (#44390131)

      I've been involved with Blizzard since the early days when they weren't so popular despite being so young.

      Wow, so Slashdot has hipsters.

      Or slipsters, as MojoKid might call them.

      • Only 90's kids will understand.

      • Re:Well Then (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mooingyak (720677) on Friday July 26, 2013 @09:43AM (#44390357)

        I've been involved with Blizzard since the early days when they weren't so popular despite being so young.

        Wow, so Slashdot has hipsters.

        Or slipsters, as MojoKid might call them.

        Wannabe hipster. "Early days" is apparently:

        Before WoW, before Warcraft 3.

        Maybe I'm just getting old, but that really doesn't feel like that long ago to me.

        • You aren't wrong. That means he learned about them about Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction, which was a good 5+ years after their first breakout hit of Warcraft.

        • by afidel (530433)

          Yeah really, I remember playing Lost Vikings (before they became Blizzard), Blackthorn (first game as Blizzard), and the reviewer demo for Warcraft (one of the voices for the orcs said "give good reviews please" if you clicked on him a few times =)
          Those are early days =)

    • Re:Well Then (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Hatta (162192) on Friday July 26, 2013 @09:23AM (#44390179) Journal

      Exactly. Blizzard breaking free from Activision would be much more welcome news than Activision breaking free from Vivendi.

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        If Blizzard were to seek independence from Activision then it would just become the vassal of Activision's liege.

        Hasn't Crusader Kings 2 told you anything?

        • by Hatta (162192)

          Actually, I missed that one somehow. And I'm a big fan of turn based strategy. And it's officially supported on Linux. Thanks for the recommendation!

          • by Talderas (1212466)

            It's a grand strategy game but it's not turn based. Everything progresses for all "players" at the same speed though you have a variable speed control. Make sure you understand succession laws and exhibit foresight on marrying off your children so as to accumulate titles or claims to titles in order to expand your domain.

    • by alen (225700)

      yeah, because in the old days the games were really months late because they loved to make sure it was perfect. and not as a marketing stunt to hype the game for months

      • But that's the industry standard back then. Limited resources and with a small team, you can only do so much. The technology can only do so much.

        Now? Completely different story. Blizzard had the resources to do the game right, but they didn't. They could have implemented features that were standard for games five years ago, but they didn't. SC2 is a poorly designed game riding on the coattails of its predecessor (same design formula, just tweaked in BAD ways).

        Well okay it wasn't all bad. There were s

        • by jandrese (485)
          I've not tried Heart of the Swarm, but I did get Wings of Liberty. Ultimately, WoL was a disappointment for me because there wasn't enough change from Brood War in the end. Also, it's not available on Steam which is annoying.
    • by cHiphead (17854)

      Blackthorne got me started on Blizzard, Warcraft: Orcs and Humans got me stuck on Blizzard. Playing Warcraft 2 on Kali.net was the best gaming I ever experienced. I even had my animated gif filled Warcraft 2 strategy guide site published in one of those early internet yellow pages books, which seemed awesome at the time but is hilariously awkward in retrospect.

      Battle.net was and still is annoying crap that really is just a way to chain you to them. I have never paid to play WoW and have passed on Diablo

      • by mooingyak (720677)

        So far, SC is just a lazy reworking of WC with 'surprises' that tend to bewilder any expectations of competence.

        Can't agree with you there. In WC2 at least (never played 1), the Orcs and the Humans had units that were fairly analogous to each other. There were differences, but they weren't massive, and if I picked a human unit and asked what the equivalent orc unit was, there's an obvious answer that shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with the game.

        SC on the other hand set up each side as completely distinct units. The human, zerg, and protoss units are all dissimilar from each other and you need to take different

    • by Endo13 (1000782)

      All true, except they started going downhill even before the merger. They did this to themselves. Activision may have accelerated it, but Blizzard certainly started their own downfall.

  • by crashcy (2839507) on Friday July 26, 2013 @09:01AM (#44390027)
    Call me when Blizzard breaks free of Kotick/Activision and actually starts making good games again.
  • by smartr (1035324) on Friday July 26, 2013 @09:08AM (#44390075)
    Yikes, what did Activision Blizzard ever do to the OP? In breaking from the mega-corporate-ownership chain going from something like GE-???-Vivendi-Activision, Activision is now its own independent megacorporation not owned by a debt ridden parent that was demanding massive dividends to support its drug addiction. http://venturebeat.com/2013/07/25/activision-buys-back-majority-stake-from-vivendi-for-5-83-billion/ [venturebeat.com] This is good news... If all posts were this venomous, all PS3 / XBONE / WiiU posts would sound like an expletive filled angry drunk rant by a person with turrets syndrome.
    • by Rakarra (112805)

      This is good news... If all posts were this venomous, all PS3 / XBONE / WiiU posts would sound like an expletive filled angry drunk rant by a person with turrets syndrome

      Oh, so you DO read online gaming websites. :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 26, 2013 @09:13AM (#44390101)

    I think that the move to buyout the company also has do with Vivendi trying to force Activision to issue a $3 Billion dividend. Vivendi is a majority owner of Activision. Vivendi will get $2 Billion out of the deal, and if it works well enough, may force additional dividends in the future until Activision is rung dry and some or all of Vivendi's enormous debt is paid down. The buyout is a matter of survival for Activision.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/22/vivendi-activision-idUSL6N0FS0OQ20130722

  • by kiehlster (844523) on Friday July 26, 2013 @10:30AM (#44390835) Homepage

    Apparently we're getting the TL;DR of the TL;DR. The real truth is this:

    Following the close of these two transactions, Vivendi will retain about 12% of Activision Blizzard and will no longer be the majority shareholder. [http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/gaming/2013/07/26/activision-buys-majority-vivendi-stock/2588675/]

    This is only a partial buy-out. While they would lose the majority reign over A/B, they'd still have a 12% say in everything they do.

    • by medv4380 (1604309)
      The alternative was Vivendi using it's leverage to change the board to force Activision to take out a Mega Loan and pay out a huge dividend. 8.2 Billion is also close to the 8.5 billion that the Mega Loan would have given share holders, which would have given Vivendi about 5 billion. This gives Vivendi most of the money, and gets rid of most of it's stock in the company that now has a lot more debt since they only have about half that as Cash on Hand(4.6B). I'm curious with what they are going to do to get
    • by barc0001 (173002)

      There's 1.12 billion shares of Activision. These two deals alone acquire control of 601 million of them, or 53.6% of all outstanding shares. If I have 53% control of a company, you know how much leverage your 12% gives you? Absolutely none.

  • This is the same mob who killed Sierra. And they nearly killed Ghostbusters: The Video Game. And not forgetting the bnetd lawsuits.

    I refuse to purchase any of their product (not that it matters, all the games they make are crap anyway)

  • "The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games"

    Why would you want to take the fun out of making video games? Did he not get the memo that happy employees means better products, better team spirit, better morale in the office etc etc etc ?
  • For whoever is interested in what kind of company Vivendi is: they started with water distribution monopoly in many France cities. That is a good cash cow, as if you cut expenses on water distribution infrastructure maintenance, it is not obvious before many years. And of course your customers have no choice and will accept your price.

    All that money had to be invested somewhere, this is why Vivendi started purchasing many media companies, in France and abroad. Universal was one major Vinvendi acquisition.

    No

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