Activision undergoes executive shakeup at its division that makes Candy Crush

A file photo of a man playing ‘Candy Crush Saga’ on his iPhone. Candy Crush, a series of mobile games in which players match colourful sweets, is a significant part of Activision’s business. — AFP

Two of the top executives at Activision Blizzard Inc’s King division will depart, resulting in a reshuffle at the Candy Crush developer ahead of a sale to Microsoft Corp.

King president Humam Sakhnini and chief creative officer Sebastian Knutsson are both leaving, the company said in a statement Wednesday. Tjodolf Sommestad, the chief development officer, will succeed Sakhnini as president.

Candy Crush, a series of mobile games in which players match colorful sweets, is a significant part of Activision’s business. The King division generated revenue of US$2.58bil (RM10.85bil) in 2021, and Microsoft cited the mobile business as a justification for spending US$69bil (RM290.17bil) to acquire Activision. The deal is expected to be finalised by the summer of 2023, pending regulatory approval.

The leadership change at King is likely to add turbulence at a company in transition. Beyond the sale, Activision faces lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and discrimination. It has delayed multiple big games, including an entry in its biggest franchise: Next year will be the first without a mainline Call Of Duty release in about two decades.

Knutsson helped found the company in Stockholm in 2003. Sakhnini was named president in 2019. Both said they were resigning to spend more time with their families, they told employees during a virtual meeting, according to a person who attended. Sakhnini said that when he moved to London for the job, he told his family they’d only be there for a few years before returning to California, said the attendee, who asked not to be identified because the meeting was private. – Bloomberg

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