Connect with top gaming leaders in Los Angeles at GamesBeat Summit 2023 this May 22-23. Register here.

No CEO wants to be on this list. But the chief executives of game publishers Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts are among the most overpaid CEOs in the U.S., according to a report by non-profit foundation As You Sow.

Aimed at promoting corporate social responsibility, As You Sow analyzes how much CEOs are paid and compares that to the pay for the average worker at the company. The non-profit then calculates the ratio of the difference and add other factors like the total shareholder return on investment.

Kotick ranked 45 on the list and was the highest-ranking game industry executive. He made $28.6 million in the past year, or 306 times more than the average Activision Blizzard employee. As You Sow said the excess payment was $12.8 million, based on CEO averages. Worth noting: In the past year, Activision Blizzard stock fell from $74 a share to $42.10 a share, or a market capitalization of $32.1 billion. Activision Blizzard hit a peak of $83 per share last September.

Is it fair to call them overpaid, based on performance?

Well, EA CEO Andrew Wilson saw a boost in EA’s stock price as the company launched a surprise hit Apex Legends via its Respawn division and also debuted Anthem from BioWare. Activision Blizzard, meanwhile, just parted ways with the Destiny franchise as developer Bungie decided to self-publish future versions of the game series. Activision Blizzard also reported record revenues and profits in 2018. Incidentally, Kotick appeared on 2018’s Harvard Business Review list of the best CEOs in the world.


GamesBeat Summit 2023

Join the GamesBeat community in Los Angeles this May 22-23. You’ll hear from the brightest minds within the gaming industry to share their updates on the latest developments.

Register Here

Still, the report comes out amid calls to unionize the game industry.

Meanwhile, Wilson was ranked at No. 98 on the list of overpaid CEOs, with pay at $35.7 million, or 371 times the amount of the average EA worker. As You Sow estimates his pay is $19.6 million higher than his value.

Above: Andrew Wilson, CEO of EA, at the company’s E3 2015 press briefing.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

EA’s stock has fallen in the past year from $125 a share to $95.68 a share, with a market cap of $28.6 billion today.

The average CEO to worker pay ratio at S&P 500 companies in the U.S. is 142 to 1.

For both Wilson and Kotick, it doesn’t help that both companies are in the midst of layoffs. Activision Blizzard has cut 800 of its 9,600 jobs recently, while EA is laying off workers in its Australian mobile game studio, FireMonkeys.

Among tech companies, other CEOs on the list include Oracle, Broadcom, Disney, Trip Advisor, Comcast, Netflix, AT&T, Western Digital, IBM, PayPal, Verizon, Intel (former CEO), Motorola Solutions, and eBay.

GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.