Things are not looking good for Activision Blizzard following the publication of a damning report from the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
The report alleges that Activision Blizzard chief executive officer Bobby Kotick did know about the allegations of sexual misconduct throughout the firm. Not only did Kotick know what was going on in his firm, it’s alleged that he minimised allegations of a rape at Sledgehammer Games to the Activision Blizzard board of directors.
Furthermore, the Wall Street Journal reports that the co-head of Treyarch Studio, Dan Bunting, was accused of sexually harassing a female employee. It is alleged that an internal investigation recommending he be fired, was intervened by Kotick to keep him on.
The report further paints a picture in which Kotick has been more focused on damage control following the lawsuit brought by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in July, rather than making things better for employees.
The report is rather damning and if you don’t have access to the Wall Street Journal, Polygon’s coverage can be found here.
In a video statement shared with employees, Kotick waved off the report said, “There will, of course, be continued media attention about us and our industry over the next few months. In fact, there’s an article today that paints an inaccurate and misleading view of our company, of me personally, and my leadership.”
“As I have made clear, we are moving forward with a new zero tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior — and zero means zero. Any reprehensible conduct is simply unacceptable,” the CEO added.
Despite this report, the Activision Blizzard board of directors is sticking behind Kotick.
“The Board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention,” the board wrote in a statement.
How long that will remain the case however is unclear.
We say this because employees at Activision Blizzard are calling for Kotick’s head. Metaphorically speaking of course.
The Activision Blizzard Workers Alliance said that it is instituting its own Zero Tolerance Policy – No silence until Kotick is replaced.
“We have instituted our own Zero Tolerance Policy. We will not be silenced until Bobby Kotick has been replaced as CEO, and continue to hold our original demand for Third-Party review by an employee-chosen source. We are staging a Walkout today. We welcome you to join us,” the alliance tweeted.
We have instituted our own Zero Tolerance Policy. We will not be silenced until Bobby Kotick has been replaced as CEO, and continue to hold our original demand for Third-Party review by an employee-chosen source. We are staging a Walkout today. We welcome you to join us.
— ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) November 16, 2021
According to a report from Polygon, more than 150 employees showed up at the Blizzard campus in Irvine, California in protest and dozens more gathered outside Blizzard’s offices in Minnesota.
Will Kotick go?
That is the million dollar question isn’t it. While Kotick has been the chief executive officer at Activision Blizzard for 30 years and he’s a part of the furniture at this point, we have to wonder for how much longer he will have the board’s support.
You may recall that following the filing of the lawsuit in July, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack left the firm. Both Brack and Kotick were mentioned by name in the lawsuit although Brack’s role in the allegations was more severe than those levelled against Kotick.
This time around however, we don’t see how Kotick can come out of this unscathed.
While one could argue that Kotick couldn’t reasonably know what was happening in every facet of his company, that excuse falls flat in the face of allegations that Kotick intervened to keep those accused of sexual harassment employed.
As the adage goes, rot starts at the head, and Activision Blizzard’s head has been decaying for some time already.