Rory Galvin uncovers a history of harassment and misconduct at Activision Blizzard
Activision is one of the most well known and successful game publishers in the industry, and when merged with one of the most beloved counterparts, Blizzard - it became the massive entity known today as Activision Blizzard. What followed was years of profit and acclaim, but recently a series of accounts, accusations and corporate shake-ups have thrown that out the window. All of this started with a major lawsuit that uncovered the dark history of the establishment.
In July of this year, the government of California announced that they would be suing the company and that mostly pointed towards how they treated women. This included sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as unethical employment practices where men were favoured over other employees. Initially, management at Activision Blizzard (including then President J. Allen Brack and CEO Bobby Kotick) dismissed the lawsuit as false claims. Following uproar from staff and a large organised walkout, they had no choice but to face their wrongdoings. Not too long after the walkout, Brack stepped down as President and left the company, while Kotick continued to deliver whispers of change as well as continuing the “internal” investigation that caused the walkout in the first place. The details of the lawsuit are truly eye-opening to the culture at Activision Blizzard with all of the details of sexual harassment are rotten to the core; with an 80% male split in the workforce, accounts of women being mistreated can be found everywhere.
Changes have started to take place at the company, but have certainly been a long time coming. According to the internal investigation that took place following the lawsuit, 20 employees were terminated from their position, and another 20 were punished for their actions - but it’s hard to tell what that exactly means. References to employees' names in certain games were cut out, like Alex Afrasiabi as an NPC in WOW, and Jesse McCree, who shares his namesake with the popular Overwatch character. These situations are very awkward, when these tainted names are baked in as a constant reminder of failure in the company.
it’s not really that impressive that he’s choosing against buying a second yacht
In their newest investment report, Activision Blizzard laid out what changes they would be making in response to everything over seven bullet points. All of which do sound good on paper, but they are the very early ideas of a plan. Also, if you read each bullet point closely, you’ll notice words like “goal”, “plan” and “committed”. They’re giving themselves an out just in case they don’t actually go through with their promises, and I wouldn’t be surprised if half of these statements never come to fruition. CEO Bobby Kotick is still around, and while he took a hefty pay cut on his own behalf, he already is quite wealthy and has shares in the company and investments elsewhere: so it’s not really that impressive that he’s choosing against buying a second yacht. The best thing for him to do is leave.
To wrap it up, Activision Blizzard have some of the most extreme examples of misconduct in the gaming industry. If you don’t agree with what they are doing, vote with your wallet, because clearly once the money is being messed with that’s when they act. Feel free to take Overwatch 2 off your wishlist, or cancel your World of Warcraft subscription, there are better and less guilty options on the market - such as Final Fantasy XIV.