Is It Time for Video Games to Unionize?

We all know that Activision-Blizzard makes a stupid amount of money each year, but it's coming to light just how much those at the top are netting themselves. CEO Bobby Kotick was paid $28,698,375 in 2017 alone. If you can believe it, this was actually a pay decrease from 2016, when he banked a whopping $33,065,560. These numbers were pulled directly from Kotick's filings with the U.S. Security and Exchanges Commission, so they are nothing if not accurate. These numbers alone might seem staggering already, but the real problem here is that Kotick made 306 times what the average employee at Activision makes. Over 300 times!

The average Activision employee still makes around $93,660, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it's insane how much more the people at the top are getting. In the company SEC filing, Activision actually made a statement arguing that pay between positions at the company vary wildly, but that all are paid fairly. It's really difficult to believe a statement like that, when the CEO of said company is making leaps and bounds more money than their underlings. The whole situation just reeks of a “rich get richer” sort of set-up. If Activision existed back in the middle ages, the CEOs would be the nobles and royalty, while the worker bees below would be the peasants.


You don't need me to tell you that this is a grossly unfair set-up. There's a reason why most of the world chooses to overthrow monarchies! Now, before you grab your swords and shields, I'm not saying we should stage hostile takeovers of corporations like Activision. I'd like to think we've evolved as a society well enough since the dark ages to find another way. Income disparities like this should be solved with intelligent conversation and logical solutions. The rich shouldn't keep getting richer, while the ones doing the bulk of the work have to struggle along.

If there's any benefit of the doubt that should be given to CEOs like Kotick, it's that sensationalist articles like, “Look how much money this CEO is making over his employees,” don't include where the money goes. There's usually no mention of things like Kotick's The Call of Duty Endowment, which helps military veterans find jobs after their service has ended. Equally so, you probably didn't know that Kotick appeared in the film Moneyball as part of a deal with Bennett Miller. What was Miller's side of the agreement? He'd direct a short film benefiting the CoD Endowment.

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Besides Kotick's charitable contributions, we don't know whether or not he's been putting money back into the company. Many smaller game developers often have higher ups who fund special side projects, or pay for certain employees that the company as a whole wouldn't normally take a chance on. We have no way of knowing whether or not Kotick has used some of his millions for things like that.

Even still, the fact remains that he is making an astronomically massive amount of money compared to the rest of the employees. Facts like this have led to a great many video game industry members calling for unionization. Many see this as the easiest way to shorten the income gap. It remains to be seen whether unions are the right answer, but it's true that something needs to change. Kotick making over 300 times what the rest of Activision-Blizzard's employees makes seems like far too much of a difference.

April Marie
April Marie

Contributing Writer
Date: 05/04/2018

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