Earlier this month Activision Blizzard’s longtime CEO Bobby Kotick was snared in the ongoing discrimination and harassment scandal roiling the company, with reports accusing him of personally covering for harassers and mistreating female employees. Since then, it’s been radio silence from Kotick even as the heads of PlayStation and Xbox proclaimed themselves “disheartened” and “disturbed” by the situation and over 1,700 Acti-Blizz employees have signed a petition calling for his resignation. It hasn't been all bad news for Bobby though, as the company’s board of directors continues to back him.
Well, while Kotick has yet to make a public statement following the accusations, according to the Wall Street Journal, the CEO did recently meet with executives from Blizzard, and while he didn’t indicate he was stepping down, he “left the possibility open” if Activision Blizzard’s current misconduct issues aren’t fixed “with speed.”
What exactly “fixed” might mean is open for interpretation. Back in October, Kotick outlined a number of goals for Acti-Blizz, including implementing a new zero-tolerance harassment policy and putting in place plans to increase the number of women and non-binary people in the Acti-Blizz workforce by 50 percent. Getting these in place would certainly be a start, but it won’t mean much if the actual culture at the publisher doesn’t change.
For those who haven’t been keeping up, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has filed suit against Activision Blizzard, alleging gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft publisher. Activision Blizzard’s official response to the suit accuses the DFEH of “distorted […] and false” descriptions and insists the picture painted is “is not the Blizzard workplace of today.” An open letter objecting to the official response was signed by thousands of current and former Acti-Blizz employees, leading to a worker walkout. Acti-Blizz CEO Bobby Kotick would eventually apologize for the company’s initial response, calling it “tone deaf.” Several high-ranking Blizzard employees, including former president J. Allen Brack and Diablo IV and World of Warcraft team leaders have resigned or been fired, leading to name changes for some characters. The story has even attracted the attention of the US Federal Government, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opening a "wide-ranging" investigation.
It will be interesting to see how things shake out. Realistically, if no more major accusations emerge, Kotick will probably quietly declare a job well done and move on. Of course, everything might change if a new damning report drops. As always, we here at Wccfech will keep you updated as the story develops.