Activision Blizzard's Bobby Kotick and EA's Andrew Wilson are among some of the "most overpaid" CEOs in all of the United States, according to non-profit organization As You Sow's 2019 list. As You Sow specializes in revealing the pay gaps between employees and their CEOs, publishing annual lists that compare the discrepancies between those two positions.
Pay discrepancy and the fragility of most game developer's job situations has been an increasingly relevant topic in 2019. Developers are being laid off despite studios succeeding, while workers are increasingly attempting to form a union to protect them from this exploitation. Despite layoffs affecting scores of different studios this year, the two highest profile ones were enacted by Activision Blizzard, which laid off 800 employees, and EA, which laid off 25% of its Australian studio not long after.
The appearance of both men on As You Sow's 2019 list aren't really surprising, but they help underscore the context of what's been happening in the games industry over the past few months. Bobby Kotick ranks highest among games industry CEOs according to the report, which indicated Kotick's pay was 306 times more than his average employee. Activision recently laid off hundreds of employees at the same time the company reported earning record profits over the course of 2018. EA's Andrew Wilson actually earns 371 times more than the average EA employee, but the list also takes into account shareholder approval, which Wilson had more of than Kotick. Wilson ranks 98th on the top 100 overpaid CEOs, while Kotick is 45th.
The report is also grim in its outlook on the future of pay discrepancy in the American work place. The report notes that shareholders are beginning to oppose how much CEOs earn annually, but that CEO pay is still increasing in spite of this. That's not exactly encouraging for an industry that is looking to try to shrink the widening gap between employees and the top of company hierarchies.
The report is also another blow to the public perception of both companies. Activision Blizzard has been lambasted for its treatment of its layoffs, especially the questionable decision to bundle that announcement with one that reflected company strength. EA is currently fighting off the negative reception of Anthem, a game that launched earlier in the month and has been criticized for feeling as though it is missing key features.
Source: As You Sow