Gamers Ask: Is Bobby Kotick’s Activision Blizzard Getting Into Crypto and NFTs?
Mobile games are a big money generator for Activision Blizzard, according to its Q2 2022 report. The company’s longtime CEO, Bobby Kotick, is a big-time believer in having free games on phones. “[It] is going to probably be a big way to grow the audience,” he said. According to Activision Blizzard’s official filings, in that quarter alone, mobile games generated $831 million in revenue. But recently, gamers around the globe expressed concerns about the prospect of blockchain-powered systems and play-to-earn aspects being added to Activision Blizzard games after a survey made the rounds regarding “emerging and future trends,” specifically NFTs and cryptocurrencies.
Mike Ybarra, president of Blizzard Entertainment, stated that the video game developer and publisher is absolutely not “doing NFTs.” And a spokesperson for Bobby Kotick’s Activision Blizzard stated, “The company conducts surveys regularly on a wide range of emerging topics to better learn about the interests of our players, regardless of our involvement in such trends.” The global mobile games market generated approximately $6.6 billion from players spending in both Google Play and the App Store.
Breaking Down the Technical Terminology
For those who don’t know, NFTs are non-fungible tokens. Those are unique cryptographic tokens that dwell on a blockchain system and are unable to be replicated. However, NFTs can be sold or traded, and every transaction is recorded on the blockchain.
A blockchain is a system that keeps track of transactions made in cryptocurrency across several computers connected to a peer-to-peer network. Blockchain is a company that offers cryptocurrency financial services. In 2011, it was the first bitcoin blockchain explorer before creating a cryptocurrency wallet.
The play-to-earn business model embraces the concept of an open economy and works on blockchain technology. These models are online games that give players the opportunity to win rewards with real-world value. Gamers accomplish that by finishing tasks and advancing through the game’s levels. Rewards range from in-game assets such as crypto tokens, skins, and virtual land to weapons and other NFTs. In other words, gamers compete for much more than just a high score.
What Do Gaming Industry Leaders Think of Crypto Financial Services?
Thus far, Bobby Kotick and Activision Blizzard have managed to keep their famous franchises, including Call of Duty, Overwatch, Crash Bandicoot, and World of Warcraft, NFT-free. However, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer is not totally opposed to the new technology.
“Play-to-earn specifically is something I am cautious about. It creates a worker force out of players for certain players to monetize. To be fair for us, in the games industry, this has existed for years,” Spencer said. “There have been gold farmers — people who literally just spend their time doing some menial task in a game to accrue some currency that they can then sell to some other rich player for real money, so that person doesn’t have to spend their time. But now you find games that are starting to build that into the economy of the game itself.”
Spencer confirmed that the Minecraft franchise wouldn’t add anything “exploitative” to the franchise, such as play-to-earn mechanics. However, he sees potential for NFTs. “I think sometimes it’s a hammer looking for a nail when these technologies come up. But the actual human use, or player use in our case, of these technologies, I think there could be some interesting things,” Spencer said.
According to Reggie Fils-Aime, the former president of Nintendo in America, “Certainly, there’s a lot to be proven out and the massive loss in value of different platforms in the blockchain environment that we’ve seen over the past few weeks tells you this technology is still immature. But in my mind, that’s not a reason to just completely push it aside and say it can never be anything of substance or value.”
Bobby Kotick Propelling Activision Blizzard Into the future
Bobby Kotick has been the CEO of Activision Blizzard since Activision acquired Vivendi Games in July 2008. At the beginning of 2022, the company confirmed that it was in the process of being acquired by Microsoft. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, said he was “grateful” for Kotick, who has continued as CEO of his gaming company.
The gaming industry is highly competitive, and Kotick understood the benefits of working together to create great games. “When Phil [Spencer] called, it happened to be at a time when Activision was getting ready to start our long-range planning process, and we realized that there were going to be issues and challenges,” says Kotick. The two CEOs have a history together. “We have a great friendship,” adds Kotick. “And the company has a great relationship. All the skills we need, all the resources we need, and they at Microsoft have — it made a lot of sense.”