Activision Blizzard Threatened with Government Intervention

By Jason Collins | 2 weeks ago

activision blizzard

The state treasurers from California, Illinois, Oregon, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Delaware have asked to meet with the board members at Activision Blizzard by December 20, threatening legal action against the company if it does not comply, as reported by Kotaku. For those who don’t know, state treasurers are in charge of overseeing financial matters concerning both the state and the public. But with everything going on, in what seems like a positive direction, why would state treasurers be interested in how Activision Blizzard addresses its issues?

Let’s go to the beginning. Activision Blizzard has been accused of fostering a “frat boy” workplace culture based on sexual harassment and gender discrimination aimed at its female employees. Further investigations unearthed more sexual misconduct, unfair treatment of its employers in general, crunch hours, and pay gaps. In addition, it was also discovered that some high-profile employees knew and even possibly participated in the misconduct, while certain, albeit unnamed members of HR management actively covered up various incidents, including sexual assaults, physical and psychological bullying, gender discrimination, and unfair treatment.

As per our previous report, theWall Street Journal unearthed the company CEO Bobby Kotick’s involvement in downplaying and even participating in said misconducts. And that was precisely the straw that broke the camel’s back. On top of ongoing lawsuits initiated by California DFEH, its shareholders, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a number of government entities are joining the chorus. Treasurers in states like Illinois, who serve as auditors of public accounts, are taking an interest in ABK, given that some states have active investments in the company, which are affected by the company’s stock prices.

As things are right now, the treasurers aren’t happy with Activision Blizzard’s leadership, which managed to inflate the company’s stock value by downplaying and covering up the aforementioned misconduct rampaging through the company. That has, in turn, affected the pension funds that people use in retirement and impacted the government shareholders’ finances — something they might hold Activision Blizzard’s leadership accountable for.

Activision Blizzard is bleeding as a direct result of the aforementioned workplace issues and bad management. Jessica Gonzales, Blizzard’s Senior Test Analyst and one of the loudest voices responsible for employee’s activism in ABK, announced her resignation, followed by a public message aimed at the company’s CEO Bobby Kotick:

“To @bktoick: Your inaction and refusal to take accountability is driving out great talent, and the products will suffer until you are removed from your position as CEO. This may seem harsh, but you had years to fix the culture and look at where the company now stands.” — said Gonzales on Blizzard’s internal Slack.

But the pressure on Activision Blizzard isn’t only coming from within the company and various government agencies. As a result of various investigations, CEO Kotick has come under “bad rep,” and The National Legal and Policy Center is now requesting various companies in which Kotick serves as a member of the board of directors to immediately seek his resignation. Prominent names from the gaming industry, like Phil Spences (Xbox), Jim Ryan (PlayStation), and Doug Bowser (Nintendo), have previously sent emails to their staff criticizing the workplace culture of Activision Blizzard and its toxic leadership. In the end, they had it coming. The various issues regarding sexual misconduct within Blizzard were well-known public secrets, even before DFEH initiated their lawsuit. Hopefully, with government agencies weighing in, the situation will finally take a turn towards better.