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Activision Blizzard plans company wide restructuring to focus on delivering more content to players, including Call of Duty

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One of the biggest topics as part of Activision Blizzard’s 2018 Q4 Quarter Earnings call was how the company plans to adjust to refocus on boosting revenue after new competition in 2018 effected the company’s overall position in the gaming industry.

As part of that, the company stated that they intend to lay off 8% of their work force, which means 800 people will no longer have a job – even after Activision Blizzard CEO said that 2018’s revenue exceeded their expectations.

The company plans to prioritize game development across all parts of their business, and Call of Duty is also getting new attention within Activision.

During the call, Activision Blizzard Chief Operating Officer, Coddy Johnson, said that they are investing more resources into Call of Duty’s development to better engage players year round with fresh content. In addition, they plan to accelerate the expansion of the franchise to new platforms and geographies, including mobile.

For Call of Duty, Activision management expects additional resources to deliver more frequent content updates and events for the franchise and accelerate its expansion across platforms and geographies.

Johnson also said they plans to increase coordination across the studios to better align Call of Duty titles and releases for a better user experience.

We are also increasing coordination across our Call of Duty studios with unified development leadership and more unified tools and technology to create a more consistent user experience and leverage our development scale and expertise. 

Activision’s newly appointed President, Rob Kostich, also spoke briefly on how they plan to re-engage the community with Call of Duty with better resources and more content. Kostich said they have the biggest content release for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 on February 19 with the new operation for the game.

Now in terms of Black Ops 4, it delivered better unit sales than Black Ops 3 in its launch quarter. So what we have is a really strong foundation of players right now and our biggest objective is to driving on going engagement with our community. Now the good news is we have our best in game content coming still. Our next event, on February 19, will be what we believe our biggest and best in game event, and it’s going to have significant updates across all modes. And we’re looking forward to see how that lands and resonates with the community. 

What this means for the future of the franchise and how content releases will work has yet to be seen. Activision says that they expect modest results in revenue while they continue to work on this restructuring of the company.

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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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Activision Blizzard sued over Modern Warfare & Warzone Operator Mara

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Activision Blizzard has been sued by a writer and photographer over using his model photography design for the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare & Warzone Operator Mara.

The new lawsuit, as noted by Polygon, was filed in a California court against Activision Blizzard on Tuesday, Feb 2.

Clayton Haugen filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Activision alleging the company used and modeled Mara’s look after one his own characters, Cade Janus. The character is played by the same model used for Mara, Alex Zedra. He posted an image of the character on his Instagram.

Haugen first debuted Cade Janus character is his novel, November Renaissance. “The central character in November Renaissance is Cade Janus, a female vigilante and pariah figure. Haugen created this distinct and multidimensional female protagonist for his story because he believed that November Renaissance could be a successful film and the unique female lead would distinguish it from an over saturated market of action and science fiction movies.

The lawsuit argues that Activision and Infinity Ward used the same model and photographer to create the Mara character in game, without ever asking for his permission. The complaint also states that Janus’ photography was shown in the studio’s walls during the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare photo-op.

“In addition to hiring the same talent, they also hired the same makeup professional who had prepared the talent for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs,” the complaint reads. “They instructed the makeup professional to prepare the talent exactly as she had done for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs. They instructed her to style the talent’s hair exactly as she had done for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs, even using the same hair piece extension.”

The Operator Mara was introduced into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in December 2019 as part of the Season One Battle Pass. The lawsuit alleges that Activision, without permission, used this character in all of their marketing material for Season One, including the Season One roadmap.

In the extensive filing of the copyright infringement, Haugen showcases the similarities between his character and the Operator Mara’s look and feel, as seen below:

Activision Blizzard has not commented on the lawsuit at this time. It’s not clear when this will go to trial.

You can read the full lawsuit here.

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