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Activision Blizzard announces Google executive Daniel Alegre as new President and COO

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Activision Blizzard today announced the appointment of a new President and Chief Operating Officer for the company, Daniel Alegre, who will begin in April.

Alegre has been working as the head of retail and sales for Google for the last several years and has expanded Google’s reach to new markets during his time at the company. Alegre joins Activision Blizzard as the President and COO, replacing Coddy Johnson who served in that role for 12 years. Johnson will become a Special Advisor to the CEO.

Here’s Activision Blizzard’s announcement:

Alegre brings decades of global experience in entertainment and technology and a consistent record of driving revenue growth at Google. In his new role, Alegre will oversee the Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, and King Digital Entertainment businesses, reporting directly to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

“I was deeply impressed by Daniel’s entrepreneurial drive and broad and deep experience in driving global growth across a variety of businesses in a rapidly changing industry,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “Our greatest challenges are prioritizing the many opportunities we have and recruiting and retaining the talent needed to execute with focus and excellence. Daniel is a proven leader with a long track record of success doing both.”

Activision Blizzard is at an exciting point in its history,” said Alegre. “In addition to a deep library of owned and internationally beloved franchises, the company has tremendous talent that has built a culture committed to inspiration and creativity. More importantly, through thoughtful and creative games, it connects and engages over 400 million people around the world through epic entertainment. I look forward to helping players around the world connect through quality and immersive games.”

Most recently at Google, Alegre was President of Global Retail and Shopping, where he led initiatives to embed ecommerce across all Google product areas and helped diversify beyond advertising into the retail transactions business. Prior to that, he was President of the company’s Global and Strategic Partnerships function, working across all of Google’s core business lines to create and foster key strategic relationships and revenue acceleration with partners around the world. Alegre also ran Google’s Asia Pacific and Japan businesses as President based in Singapore and Tokyo where he opened the first operations in China, Southeast Asia and India, and expanded the footprint in Japan, Australia and Korea. Previously, he opened and ran the Latin American business for Google as company Vice President.

Upon Alegre’s arrival, the company’s current President and COO, Coddy Johnson, will continue as a Special Advisor to the CEO. Kotick continued, “During Coddy’s combined twelve years at Activision Blizzard, he has made extraordinary contributions to the continued success of the company. He has been a transformative leader, a trusted advisor, and an inspiration through his unwavering hard work and determination. We are incredibly thankful for the lasting impact Coddy has had on the Company and I am especially grateful for the impact he has had on me personally.”

Source: Activision PR

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Activision issuing “hardware bans” to thwart Warzone cheaters

Activision have confirmed that they are handing out “hardware bans” to banned cheaters who keep making fresh accounts.

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Call of Duty Warzone gameplay

Cheaters and hackers have plagued Call of Duty: Warzone since its launch, but on top of account bans, Activision has confirmed that they are issuing hardware bans to thwart repeat offenders.

Cheaters have been a thorn in both players’ and developers’ sides since Warzone launched in 2020. It has been common to run into players blatantly wall-hacking and aim-botting, ruining the game for casual players and pros alike.

Raven Software has been providing regular updates on how many cheaters have been banned, and Activision recently confirmed that 475,000 permabans have been issued since Warzone’s launch. The likely reason why this number is so high is that Warzone is free-to-play. It’s widely believed that even if a cheater’s account gets banned, they can simply create a new one and carry on as if nothing happened.

Activision is aware of this issue and player’s concerns and released an in-depth update on their anti-cheat progress on April 12.

Because so many players have been concerned that account bans are ineffective, Call of Duty staff responded to this, saying that “Removing cheaters and taking away their ability to move to alternate accounts is a key focus for the security teams.”

They confirmed that if you’re cheating, not only could you be unknowingly downloading malware to your system, you could also receive a hardware ban.

To make sure players don’t keep creating fresh accounts to cheat with, Activision said, “We do issue hardware bans against repeat, or serial, cheaters. This is an important part of our effort to combat repeat offenders.”

This means that players who receive a hardware ban will be permanently locked out and won’t be able to simply create a new, free account and go back to their cheating ways.

Helicopters flying to Warzone's Verdansk Stadium

Activision also confirmed that not only are they targeting individual accounts with cheats installed, but also “the commercial market of cheat providers and resellers.” They revealed that they have recently banned “45,000 fraudulent, black market accounts used by repeat offenders.”

Cheaters will likely still make their way into your Warzone sessions, but Activision is making sure it’s continuously more risky and difficult to do.

In the meantime, you can check out our guide on how to spot cheaters in Warzone so you can assist Activision by reporting these players.

Image Credit: Activision

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Report: Activision Blizzard HQ & Treyarch offices set to relocate

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A new report states Activision Blizzard will no longer lease its office space in Santa Monica and are actively searching for a new HQ location.

DoTEsports reports that Activision Blizzard and Treyarch have ended their lease at their Santa Monica HQ offices. The company has had the office under their lease for more than a decade.

Per the new report, the teams that work in those spaces will work from home until further notice.

The company is reportedly in search of a new space. An internal memo, which was sent to staff and obtained by DoTEsports, states the company is actively looking for a new office space in the Santa Monica area.

We have narrowed down the search for our next office location to several properties in the Santa Monica area and we hope to finalize our plans in the coming weeks,” the internal company communication said.

Activision employees have been working from home since March 2020. As of now, the company says they’re on track to return to office by September 1, 2021. The timeline remains unchanged.

Activision’s main headquarters was located in the Santa Monica office on Ocean Blvd in California. Treyarch’s studio space was located right next door to Activision Blizzard HQ in Santa Monica on the first floor of an office building. The two used those buildings for over 10 years now, and are now up for rental and purchase.

Activision has not commented on this information as of now.

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Investment group calls out Activision for CEO payout

Activision Blizzard’s CEO continues to rake in bonus after bonus, and now investment firms are questioning the decisions.

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An investment firm, CtW, issued a statement report directed at Activision for upcoming bonus pay for their CEO, Bobby Kotick, which is valued at a remarkable $200 million.

The report states that an SEC filing and agreement between Activision Blizzard CEO and the board of directors of the company will allow the CEO to receive a bonus pay of $200 million at the end of this year.

Per the investment group, as released to GameSpot, a loophole created within Bobby Kotick’s employee agreement allows him to claim full bonus payout for previous years regardless of the company’s performance. This loophole is described in the “Shareholder Value Creation Incentive” provision in Kotick’s employment agreement. He can receive a full performance equity payout from previous years – 2017 and on. That is valued at almost $200 million, which is set to be paid out in cash upon the end date of the incentive provision.

Investment group CtW issued a scathing statement over this, as the company just this week laid off less than 2% of its workforce, which is less than 190 people for “restructuring” purposes. The lay offs impacted Activision Blizzard esports department, alongside the company’s King division.

While the increase in Activision’s stock price is somewhat commendable, as we stated last year and continue to assert, this achievement alone does not justify such a substantial pay outcome for the CEO,” director of executive compensation research, Michael Varner, said. “There are many factors that may contribute to a rise in this particular company’s stock price that may not be directly attributable to Robert Kotick’s leadership. The use of video games as one of the few entertainment options available amid the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has been a boon to many companies in the gaming industry irrespective of executive talent or strategic decisions.

Bobby Kotick already makes $30 million a year from Activision thanks to his base salary and bonus yearly pay. He’s one of gaming’s highest paid executives. Activision continues to report record profits with 2020 being the company’s biggest year yet.

Activision has not commented on the latest developments on this payout.

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