Update: More than 1300 Activision Blizzard employees have signed a petition demanding that CEO Bobby Kotick resign in the wake of this week's Wall Street Journal report alleging his failure to act on knowledge of misconduct at studios within the company.
At the time of writing, the petition lists 1337 employees from across various Activision Blizzard departments and studios, and carries the following statement:
We, the undersigned, no longer have confidence in the leadership of Bobby Kotick as the CEO of Activision Blizzard. The information that has come to light about his behaviors and practices in the running of our companies runs counter to the culture and integrity we require of our leadership--and directly conflicts with the initiatives started by our peers. We ask that Bobby Kotick remove himself as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and that shareholders be allowed to select the new CEO without the input of Bobby, who we are aware owns a substantial portion of the voting rights of the shareholders.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer is also reported to be 'evaluating' Xbox's relationship with Activision.
Original Story (Thu 18th Nov, 2021 12:00 GMT): Approximately 150 Activision Blizzard employees assembled outside the Blizzard offices in Irvine, California yesterday in protest of the company's CEO, Bobby Kotick, following allegations of misconduct made in a recent Wall Street Journal report.
The employees gathered to protest the executive's continued role at the company following claims that the CEO was directly informed of various misconduct allegations and harassment complaints, including a sexual assault incident in 2016 at Sledgehammer Games that was settled out-of-court, yet Kotick did not inform the Activision Blizzard board of directors at the time.
The report also references an incident in 2006 where Kotick reportedly threatened to have an assistant killed over voicemail.
Activision released a defensive statement in response to the WSJ report which references a recently drafted 'zero-tolerance policy', apparently instigated by Kotick:
The ABK Workers Alliance, who are calling for Kotick's resignation, tweeted in response to Activision's own statement:
The report alleges examples of Kotick failing to disclose internal investigations to the board of directors, and also suggests that the controversial email sent by Fran Townsend to employees following the misconduct and discrimination lawsuit filed in July this year — one that Kotick subsequently described as "tone deaf" — was, in fact, drafted by Kotick himself.
This latest development in the ongoing Activision Blizzard situation comes after Jen Oneal recently resigned as co-leader of Blizzard following the departure of J. Allen Brack in August. Oneal and Mike Ybarra had been appointed co-leaders, although the former Vicarious Visions boss stepped down after only three months. The WSJ report suggests that her departure came as the result of being paid less than Ybarra despite their joint position, and from being "tokenised, marginalised, and discriminated against" at the company.
The Activision Blizzard board released a statement conveying their support and confidence in Kotick which has drawn further criticism, including from PlayStation boss Jim Ryan.
[source wsj.com, via eurogamer.net]
Fantastic to see the mistreated and misheard employees take a stance against such a demonic company. I wish the absolute best of outcomes for them because I know it's not easy speaking out against men with such vast riches and power.
Hopefully he’ll pressured into leaving, because this guy is a complete idiot.
Great to see employees taking action!
According to an article on PCGamer Bobby Kotick reportedly threatend an assistant to have her klled. This monster should be in jail in all honesty.
Wow, I must've been living under a rock this whole time...did not realize how bad the situation was.
Less than 2% of the workforce stage a walkout.
To call for the resignation of a man that spent 30 years building the company.
I'm not personally a fan of Bobby, but I don't think this will work.
@thiz- Yup, heard about it, he tried to "silence" her. Even after getting that employee drunk and having his way with her.It's disheartening to see what happened to Blizzard in the past few years.
I remember back when I used to play Heroes of the Storm, Diablo 3, Overwatch and Hearthstone with my buds.
@Nephestinus Even before that. I played Warcraft 2 with my grandpa, then Warcraft 3 and Diablo 2. World of Warcraft was my life for its first 8 years or so. Now its all tainted.
@ModdedInkling stock was at 104ish at the beginning this year (all-time high). Since then it dropped to 60ish now.
It’s going pretty bad over there indeed.
@Pod The stock drop and the bad press might work though.
@thiz- If the situation inside Blizzard didn't taint your love for these games than the devs did a really good job of it with adding WoW tokens. This company is doomed.
Oh I'm with you on that.
And at the very least, this will draw headlines.
I'm just saying it's unlikely for Kotick to resign.
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@Pod If true, that should be in the article to give context to the size of the walkout. Many will read 150 people but not realize how many FTEs the company actually has. Not defending the CEO, but wondering why completely relevant information is often missing from news stories.
@FredsBodyDouble I don't want to defend him, he deserves to be fired, and it seems he also deserves jail, but so far, the accusations say that he knew what was happening, did nothing, hid everything, and made verbal threats and verbal harassment, but no accusations that he raped or sexually harassed someone, at least for now.
That's probably the next step.
"Activision Blizzard higher-ups apparently knew The Wall Street Journal’s report was on the way and extended the company’s Thanksgiving break in anticipation of the story’s publication. It was also made clear that Activision Blizzard’s new zero-tolerance policy would not extend to Kotick’s past actions." (Source: GameDeveloper.com)
So in the face of deeply rooted harassment culture at the company that was so bad that state government had to intervene, the board of execs looked at the situation and said "you know what? this is fine."
What an abhorrent, vile state of affairs at Activision/Blizzard. If the company falls, I would most certainly not be shedding any tears.
What end will it work towards though?
Getting rid of Kotick won't improve company atmosphere by itself. More likely, Kotick leaving would be the beginning of the end for the company as a whole.
You and me both.
What's relevant here is that the 150 employees all work at Blizzard. So that's sizeable chunk of thei- wait. It's not.
Over four and half thousand people work at Blizzard Entertainment alone.
And, the entirety of Activision Blizzard has upwards of ten thousand employees around the world. Bobby Kotick is the top boss of all of them.
@CharlieGirl you're surprised the board is siding with someone who's made them a lot of money? They'd defend him no matter the claim, employees are the plebes in the eyes of the shareholders. A good billionaire? It's a new oxymoron like airplane food.
I hope they get what they want. Not just Kotick leaving, either.
And make no mistake, I think Kotick belongs in jail but I doubt that's going to happen.
It's time for him to go. Good Riddance.
I can only hope the newest Call of Duty takes a hit because of the whirlwind of negative press. Money is the only language these scumbags understand.
The protestors have my full support. Get rid of that corporate scumbag.
To be honest every single person in gaming when this stuff happens should walk out. Journalists, game devs, even CEO's of other companies in support to send a message that change is coming. Get these pervs and predators out and start fresh with a safe culture.
@progx At least, in your analogy, airplane food actually serves a functional purpose! ¬‿¬
I will definitely not be buying any more blizzard games ever again. This past year has finally changed my opinion with the more I’ve heard.
There need to be so many more work-outs like this. Kotick in particular has been one of many weeping sores on the side of Activision-Blizzard for much too long.
I used to be a (probably worryingly addicted) WoW player, but I've been boycotting all games by these guys for years now. With the mistreatment of employees, 'anti-poaching' clauses, abundant sexual harassment claims and so much else, I just can't support a company like this no matter how much I enjoy their work.
After playing WoW for over 13 years from Vanilla 1st being released it is hard to believe as now a former player this is the same company that I enjoyed watching a documentary online by them during Lich King time celebrating the mom and pop family start up atmosphere it was when WoW online came about. If I recall that docu was up around 2010.
If this is true, good thing I haven't bought any of their games for over 5 years now and I don't plan on changing that either.
It's such a shame to see a company such as Blizzard fall so low. I remember in their glory days everyone wanted to work there, now all you hear is how toxic the company has become. Sad times and the stories are horrifying. No one should accept working conditions like that
oh my! Activision Blizzard situation is worse then i expected, someone need urgently to fire Bobby Kotic and stop this horrible toxic workplace.
The sad thing is that when he walks or they fire him, he'll leave with a payday. CEOs typically receive severance packages when they're done, even if they did a poor job.
The other sad thing is when I read how people hate Blizzard now. The wrongs of a few have ruined something that is still good to a lot of people. There are still regular awesome people that make their living there, create great games, and aren't horrible losers.
I expect that some time next week, we'll be reading a story about approximately 150 Activision Blizzard employees being laid off.
Even after last time, they're once again going for the 'dude nah this is totally inaccurate and we're totes disappointed you got the wrong idea' thing as their premier reaction. Astounding.
Be gone, Kotick! Corrupt 💩 bag! 😡
I'm not used to PR speech and damage control but their choice of words in their answer with all those "we are the best ever" either sounds like they are extremely out of touch or they are terrible liars.
This CEO smells like the kind of jerk that hires a quota of minorities for the sole purpose of saying "See? We hired them, we are diverse"
@Pillowpants Sadly. This has gone on much longer than people realize.
It's more or less thanks to the MeToo movement that this finally came out and Blizzard's toxic work environment finally getting exposed.
Bobby Kotick himself was involved in a rape allegation by a female employee back in 2008 that was settled out of court.
Including abhorrent and sexist employee parties that went on back in that period.
Bobby Kotick is also included in the famous black book of Jeffrey Epstein. So that alone should tell you what kind of monster he is.
What you see and read currently is sadly just the tip of the iceberg and now even the CEO of Sony's Playstation division has called out ActivisonBlizzard.
@Pod I hope it'll be a start of a more healthy and safe working environment. So the end of a less healthy and unsafe working environment I think...
Let's hope so.
If this it what it takes to get management to treat the issue with respect, then this is what it takes.
@Jeronan I find calling him a monster a bit harsh.
Monsters have feelings too ya know!
I'm honestly not surprised by the board's ardent support of Kotick.
After all, he's doing his job for them as intended. He's been making them a lot of money.
Also, as someone else mentioned, there's bound to be a nice bit of lay-offs in the coming weeks.
@Pod my thoughts exactly
made death threats over email GEEZ 0_0
KNOW I know why people hate blizzard!
@CharlieGirl haha. It did, but it didn’t improve when they wanted you to pay for it. 😂
Wow, this guy definitely needs to go. Nice to see employees taking action.
About time his antics have caught up to him. Hopefully once he's gone Activision and Blizzard will go back to how they once were.
OH YES!!! We're finally seeing a bit of hope for a future where Bobby Kottick isn't the head of Activision! God, this feels good.
Has any of this been proven in a court of law, yet? Is there even a civil lawsuit scheduled?
Good. Get the real life embodiment of Gallywix out of that position. In fact, fire the entire board. I swear, publicly traded companies were a mistake.
Blizzard should have stayed independent... and not merge with Activision...
@Pod "man that spent 30 years building the company."
So what? What's a single thing that he's done that's more important than all the work of everyone else over the last 30 years? And whatever you can possibly name, it doesn't serve as sufficient justification for him to stay on after what he's done.
I think Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo need to stop selling Activision games on their platforms until Kotick leaves and the whole company is restructured.
I'm surprised Nintendo hasn't taken some kind of action already to be honest, considering the image they try to uphold. It would only take one of the big three to take action and the rest would surely follow suit. I suppose nothing has been definitively proven yet, but still, it's not a good look to be in partnership with such a nefarious company.
@Old-Red The issue for Microsoft and Sony is that ActiVision is too big and powerful with a massive library of games on their platforms.
It would have a huge impact on both XBox and PS when all ActiVision games get banned, even temporary.
This would cause a huge outcry among their customers, where the vast majority of them have ZERO clue about whats going on at ActiVision Blizzard.
All this will do is hurt gamers and the employees themselves working at the various studios under ActiVision.
What will have a much bigger impact, is all big names in the Game industry publically speak out against Bobby Kotick and ActiVision and that he should resign. The more big names speaking out, the more impact it will have in putting pressure on ActiVision to get rid of him and force change.
Bobby's gotta go.
Walking out and going right back in to make him money. How will that help anything?
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Better late than never.
@Jeronan "Bobby Kotick is also included in the famous black book of Jeffrey Epstein. So that alone should tell you what kind of monster he is."
The black book matters? Wasn't just about anyone globally famous in there?
I'm guessing the number 1337 is not accidental
This story just gets crazier and crazier, I hope it ends well for all the employees involved, other than Kotick of course.
Bobby Kotick is honestly the main reason I haven't given Activision any of my money in the past 14 years. I know it sucks as there are plenty of talented and passionate people that work within that organization. But I can't stand knowing that anything I buy from them would help him financially.
All in all I can't believe he's remained in his position for so long considering how evil this man has been. I'm very happy for the employees taking a stand. Bobby Kotick will finally get his comeuppance. And when that happens, we can all celebrate.
Time to return Activision back into a company that gives a crap about their community, both employees and gamers.
@kal_el_07241 Same here! His rant about taking out the fun from making video games and no teams just cubicle development. Their games got yearly release and way too much dlc. That turned me away from them for good.
I'm thinking he might actually step down. With a huge parting sum of millions of course. I wonder who would replace him?
@Old-Red Taking action like that based on news reports and employee complaints alone would be disastrous. Nintendo doesn't need to do anything until something is proved in a court of law or a civil trial. And even then, they still can do whatever they want with their platform. Selling games =/= sexual harassment. No need to punish the entirety of the company over accusations against the CEO.
I love all this "Bobby's gotta go," stuff. I understand the weight and gravity of the situation, but having it proven in a court case/civil lawsuit would be even better. In the meantime, until something is proven, keep the pitchforks in your garage. At the very least, having this many employees petition for his resignation should put more pressure to begin the process for a civil lawsuit.
@DumbElder and that makes it better?
That so many famous people were in that little black book should disgust you.
Even Mr. Uber nerd aka Bill Gates has fallen from grace and been exposed. Who would have ever thought he would be a person like that?
But in Bobby Kotick’s case it’s no surprise at all he was close friends with Epstein, since he is a nasty pig that has been involved in his own rape allegation(s).
@Pod spent 30 years building a company doesn’t protect you from what he did. Lol. Wtf.
Abusive people in power don't operate independently. They rely on other higher-ups to ignore, enable and cover up for them. As the tweet above says "the board is complicit for letting this slide." It's not just Bobby who needs to be held responsible. It's whole top floor.
mega mergers ruin companies. Activision / Blizzard is just going to become a bland tune that doesn't inspire or offend anyone. And forget about fun and humor.
Blizzard is finished no matter which way they go from here.
Bobby stays on gets a massive paycheck. Bobby resigns gets a massive paycheck. Something somewhere went horribly wrong...
@Scarko Yeah, I thought the same when I saw the update. Can't be coincidence that a "LEET" number of employees signed it.
This company cares about diversity more than gaming & it's shown for awhile now. Fun to watch the McDonald's of gaming free fall. Enjoying the popcorn! munch
@HollowSpectre It's almost as if the whole system is designed by and for the benefit of the rich and powerful.
@BloodNinja I think gamers and the devs can go a couple of days without their precious Activison games. Let's face it, that's all it would take if Activison's route through the big 3 to sales was taken away to rectify this situation.
However, I do understand your point about definitive proof, but I think Kotick has to go either way personally, I mean, c'mon, you've got over a thousand employees signing a petition and staging walkouts to get rid of him, that's not just hearsay. It will take the influence of other powerful people and companies to make that happen.
The real question would be how do Activison sack Kotick and take away his share and control of the company without paying through the nose? Bobby is clearly done and holding out for his $225M payout for being removed.
@Purgatorium I agree. Bobby Kotick may be the person-of-concern today, but he didn’t create this hostile work environment alone. This is a systemic problem at Activision Blizzard. From him, the board, HR, and any other higher ups, they are there to protect the bottom line and their own self interests only.
I recall someone from HR once called employees “human capital”. Employees are not seen as individual human beings, but capital to be shuffled around and used.
@Jeronan Barak Obama, Lawrence Krauss, Tom Hanks, Richard Dawkins and a whole lot of women were in there too. Not sure what it says exactly besides Epstein being a powerful guy.
@Old-Red I think the petitions and walk-outs should be the catalyst for change, but should not be used as the proof of the acts he is accused of. They’re separate issues, entirely. Even in this case there should be the usual due process.
@Purgatorium I know right!?
@DumbElder This. Just because you associated with the guy even for a moment doesn't mean you're complicit with his doings or partake in his erroneous affairs. Do I believe most people who associated with the man were aware or involved? Yes. Is it fair to judge everyone listed that took a flight of his? No.
Sounds like a woke political mob that think they can bully not just people but now corporations to bend to their will.
This is the power that's been handed down to these mobs in recent years. Give them an inch and they'll take a mile.
@Purgatorium It takes thousands of people to make someone rich. If you bought any of their products, you participated in that process, as well. They aren’t just earning money by existing. If you don’t support the rich, stop buying the expensive tech that enables them to profit enough to buy their yachts.
@durrdevil To be fair that's the true power of the consumer. We all have the ability to bend corporations and entire industries to fit our needs provided we stand together and take action. We just really haven't been flexing these muscles at all until recently.
@durrdevil You are absolutely right. Obviously actually bad people should get what they deserve, but it should be taken to the court and proved there. Not just a online kangaroo court.
With this many employees walking out they could make several other companies if they could "ironically" find the leadership. Riot made an empire from ex-Blizzard folks. I hope this works out for them.
@graviton Dehumanizing people makes them easier to exploit.
@BloodNinja Fairly easy to do in a case like this, but much more challenging in general.
I stopped giving Blizzard my money last December along with about 6 other people. Doing my part.
@kal_el_07241 Addiction to WoW is a big reason, millions addicted to it and continue to feed the machine to get their fix.
I just ordered physical versions of Diablo 3 and Tony Hawks Pro Skater for Switch. 😎
@DumbElder Haha nice! Once Bobby's gone, I will be doing the same. 😁
@kal_el_07241 believe it or not but I never played Tony Hawk games in my life...will finally know what the fuss was all about. 😏
Seriously? Did you not own a gameboy advance or N64?
The games are amazing even if just for their soundtracks alone. 😊
@kal_el_07241 friend had it on playstation back in the day and it looked fun. Just never got to have a go...we were mostly into N64 yeah.
Gotcha. Well I hope you enjoy them! I haven't played the remasters yet so hopefully they live up to my memories from yesteryear.
@thiz- Your Diablo 2 memories are safe. That was done by Blizzard North. That was a separate location and office, and it was a separate company that Blizzard bought. They only kept in touch over the phone. When Blizzard tried to absorb North into Blizzard, all the employees walked out.
@thiz- Did it not occur that a the threat is perhaps taken out of context or b the assistant was a horrible person in her own right? You really going to base an opinion on such simple, one sided info?
Like, if I threaten to assasinate you on this comment section, does it really mean Im going to go out of my way to track you down and do it? If I write it in jest, does everyone one the planet have to drop what theyre doing?
Why do people base opinions on such flimsy information?
@Pigeon I take it you've never worked a day in your life or haven't had the wonderful opportunity of being a minority in whatever industry you work in. This attitude is EXACTLY why these things keep happening. There are sexual harassment and various other laws that protect people for a reason. It never NEEDS to be proven in a work environment. If you get accused of sexually harassing or abusing a co-worker it's usually an automatic termination or at least your get put on leave until there's further investigation. These laws were made so companies take these things seriously and most people understand this and don't abuse the system. People fought for these laws for DECADES to protect workers and people like you come along dismissing it entirely because it's never happened to you. You're also comparing an internet comment vs. real-life. What planet do you live on? Most people don't just mindlessly acuse someone of these things even if they don't like them.
@Tobiaku There's nothing to prove and that would get dragged out and no one working at Blizzard can AFFORD the fees to do this. Sexual harassment and other abuse allegations are protected under federal laws and this would need to be investigated by an outside source and dealt with internally. Unless Kotick sues the accuser (which it would most likely get thrown out) it would stay internal with the company. I also don't understand why you're defending Kotick. Most people don't blindly accuse someone of these things in the work place. He is the head of the company and he simply needs to go. He refuses to address the issues the employees are complaining about, the state of California launched their own investigation, and he's still ignoring it all. He doesn't need protection or a court to hide behind. He simply needs to go based on numerous company policy violations alone.
@Jeronan That's a "sweep it under the rug" scenario. They SHOULD stop selling these games. Gamers can go a while without Activision games. Kotick won't step down from thousands of Blizzard employees screaming at his door then a few Tweets from developers won't do anything either. He doesn't care. Simple as that. Also, the developers wouldn't be losing jack. They get paid hourly and any money afterward goes to the publisher.
@ivory_soul There is something to prove, if the accusations are true or not. My only defense of him is based on the premise of innocent until proven guilty. And I don't support cancel culture. Simple as that.
He didn't -really- do anything though.
At least not to our knowledge.
This is predominantly allegations about not being thorough enough with presenting material to the investigators.
What exactly has he done that's so unforgivable though?
Apparently, he refused to fire a man at Treyarch for being gross to a female collegue when both were off the clock.
It's not known if he had any knowledge of what went on at Blizzard.
I'm not a fan of Bobby. He's a mean corporate suit.
But if you want to know what he's responsible for in terms of building Activision, there is plenty of material available online.
When pirates get caught by Nintendo they receive a Ganondorf figurine. I'm sure it's fun to stare at it while paying back millions of dollars for the damage done.
Somewhat similar, Activision Blizzard is so freaking bad that Nintendo allowed them to use Ganondorf in Diablo 3.
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