Activision Blizzard and its current and former employees are in the middle of dealing with the fallout of a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing that alleges the company fostered a "frat boy" culture in which female employees were subjected to sexual harassment, unequal pay, and much more.
Since the lawsuit was filed on July 20, actions have been taken, sources have spoken their stories, Blizzard's CEO J. Allen Brack has stepped down, and much more. It can be tough to keep track of everything that has happened so far, so we've created this timeline of events that will help keep you up-to-date on the now-multiple cases, and what's being done to stop these horrific problems from happening again.
Activision Blizzard Lawsuit Timeline: The Story So Far
July 20, 2021 – Activision Blizzard Sued by California over Allegations of ‘Frat Boy Culture’ and Sexual Harassment
Following a two-year investigation by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the state filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, alleging that the company fostered a “frat boy” culture in which female employees were subjected to unequal pay and sexual harassment.
The lawsuit claimed that female employees of all levels of employment were impacted by this, and the state also alleged that Blizzard’s leadership failed to address any of these outstanding issues or prevent them from occurring within the workplace.
This “frat boy” culture was seen in male employees drinking “copious amounts of alcohol” as they made their way through cubicles to often “engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees.”
One particular incident cited in the lawsuit involves a female employee, who was already subjected to intense sexual harassment at the company, committing suicide during a work trip with a male supervisor who allegedly brought inappropriate, sexual items with him on their trip.
A source who has since departed Blizzard told IGN another story about how the room designated for breastfeeding didn’t have locks.
“Men would walk into the breastfeeding room. There was no way to lock the door. They would just stare and I would have to scream at them to leave,” The source said. IGN understands locks have since been added.
The lawsuit asks for an injunction that would force Activision Blizzard to comply with workplace protections, as well as deliver unpair wages, pay adjustments, back pay, and lost wages and benefits for female employees who were harassed.
July 21, 2021 – Activision Blizzard Released a Heavily Criticized Official Statement in Response to the Lawsuit
A day after the lawsuit made headlines, Activision Blizzard released an official statement in response, claiming that the “DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past.” It claimed it has been “extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation,” but that they “refused to inform us what issues they perceived.”
Activision Blizzard then accused them of rushing to file an inaccurate complaint and failing to have “good faith discussions with us to better understand and to resolve any claims or concerns before going to litigation.”
“We are sickened by the reprehensible conduct of the DFEH to drag into the complaint the tragic suicide of an employee whose passing has no bearing whatsoever on this case and with no regard for her grieving family,” Activision Blizzard wrote. “While we find this behaviour to be disgraceful and unprofessional, it is, unfortunately, an example of how they have conducted themselves throughout the course of their investigation. It is this type of irresponsible behaviour from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State’s best businesses out of California.”
The company continued on to say that it has taken many steps to strengthen its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and combined its Employee Networks at a global level to provide additional support.
This response led to over 2,000 former and current Activision Blizzard employees signing an internal letter criticizing the company’s public statement regarding the lawsuit, saying the response was “abhorrent and insulting.” The letter also said that these employees “no longer trust” that the company’s leaders “will place employee safety above their own interests.”
July 22, 2021 – Blizzard President J. Allen Brack Emails the Staff to Address the Lawsuit
Blizzard president J. Allen Brack emailed staff at the company to address the lawsuit, calling the reported behavior “completely unacceptable” and promising to discuss issues with employees to help move the company forward.
Obtained and posted by Bloomberg, his letter does not address any of the specifics of the legal case, but Brack does discuss “iterating on our culture,” and a “commitment to continuous improvement.” He also said, “I disdain ‘bro culture,’ and have spent my career fighting against it.”
July 22, 2021 – Activision Blizzard Executive and Former Homeland Security Advisor to George W. Bush Fran Townsend Sends Internal Email
Activision Blizzard executive and former Homeland Security Advisor to George W. Bush sent a very different type of letter to the internal Blizzard staff which sounded much different from the one sent by J. Allen Brack.
She claimed the lawsuit “presented a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories – some from more than a decade ago.” She continued to speak about the supposed steps Blizzard has taken to ensure it is a safe and inclusive company, and says that “egregious actions of others” and this “truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit” shouldn’t “damage our culture of respect and equal opportunity for all employees.”
One of IGN’s sources shared that Townsend’s letter was one of the key factors in spurring Activision Blizzard employees to action.
“That’s when employees really began to feel like the narrative was not heading in a direction that was reflective of our beliefs and of the demands [for] the changes that we want to see,” they said. “So in an act of solidarity with the victims, as well as to create this call to action, a walkout was formed. Once the logistics were all confirmed, that's when we publicized it to the rest of the company.”
Amidst all of this, Townsend also tweeted out an article that discusses the problem with whistleblowing.
July 24, 2021 – Former Blizzard Executives Apologise for Failing Employees
Blizzard co-founder and ex-CEO Mike Morhaime shared his thoughts on the allegations levied against his former company and said, “to the Blizzard women who experienced any of these things, I am extremely sorry that I failed you.” He continued by saying that “it feels like everything I thought I stood for has been washed away.”
Former senior VP of story and franchise development Chris Metzen also shared his thoughts on Twitter, saying, “I offer my very deepest apologies for the part I played in a culture that fostered harassment, inequality, and indifference. There is no excuse.”
He said that he was “having trouble reconciling the place I knew, loved, and worked in for so long with the hard reality that has been presented over the past few days. It’s like staring at two totally different worlds. But it's not. It's just the one world, and the yawning disconnect between my perception from the top and the crushing reality many of you experiences fills me with profound shame."
July 25, 2021 – Senior System Designer on World of Warcraft Says ‘Almost No Work is Being Done on World of Warcraft’ Following the Lawsuit
World of Warcraft senior system designer Jeff Hamilton took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the “terrible” statement by Activision Blizzard in response to the lawsuit. He believes that all these allegations need to be “taken seriously and in good faith” and that those found guilty “deserve both removal from the company and criminal investigation.”
He also confirmed that “almost no work is being done on World of Warcraft right now while this obscenity plays out. And that benefits nobody - not the players, not the developers, not the shareholders. Activision’s response to this is currently taking a group of world-class developers and making them so mad and traumatized they’re rendered unable to keep making a great game."
July 27, 2021 – World of Warcraft Will Remove Inappropriate References from WoW and WoW Classic
The World of Warcraft team made their first official statement since the lawsuit was made public, saying that it will remove inappropriate references from both WoW and WoW Classic.
While the team didn’t go into specifics, WoW does have references to some developers and team members who were named in the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit, including Alex Afrasiabi.
The statement is a promising one, but IGN’s own reporting shed light on the former WoW leadership that were “untouchable,” which helped lead to many of these issues.
“WoW makes money, so the people at the top of WoW are untouchable, which means they get away with lots of shit.” A Blizzard source said. “Also if you were there a long time, which most of the WoW team leadership was, you were ‘in the family’ and pretty much untouchable, which is the breeding ground for behavior like this.”
July 27, 2021 – Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick Issues a Response, Calling the Company’s Initial Statement ‘Tone Deaf’
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick released a statement that called the company’s initial statement “tone deaf,” and he promised “swift action” and said there’s no place anywhere for “discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind.”
In the short term, Kotick said the company would be investigating every claim of harassment while offering listening sessions and evaluating managers. He also pledged to add resources to ensure that Activision Blizzard’s hiring practices are more diverse.
As reported by Kotaku, Activision Blizzard would go on to retain the services of the law firm WilmerHale to help “review policies and procedures to help promote a more respectful and inclusive workplace.” This was the same law firm that is helping Amazon keep its workers from unionizing.
On July 28, Activision Blizzard employees issued a response to Kotick’s message, saying that while they are pleased that the tone of leadership communications has changed, Kotick’s messaged failed to address multiple concerns expressed by those at the company.
It didn’t address any of the demands from those involved in the walkout and the employees said that they expect “a prompt response and a commitment to action from leadership.”
July 27-28, 2021 – Activision Blizzard Employees Stage a Walkout and List Demands
Activision Blizzard employees announced on July 27 that they would be staging a walkout on July 28 in protest of the response the company’s leadership made to the lawsuit that highlighted harassment, inequality, and more within the company.
The employees also shared their list of demands, which are as follows;
- An end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, current and future. Arbitration clauses protect abusers and limit the ability of victims to seek restitution.
- The adoption of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and promotion policies designed to improve representation among employees at all levels, agreed upon by employees in a company-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion organization. Current practices have led to women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups that are vulnerable to gender discrimination not being hired fairly for new roles when compared to men.
- Publication of data on relative compensation (including equity grants and profit sharing), promotion rates, and salary ranges for employees of all genders and ethnicities at the company. Current practices have led to aforementioned groups not being paid or promoted fairly.
- Empower a company-wide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion task force to hire a third party to audit ABK's reporting structure, HR department, and executive staff. It is imperative to identify how current systems have failed to prevent employee harassment, and to propose new solutions to address these issues.
Blizzard confirmed it would offer paid time off for those employees who wished to be part of this walkout.
July 28, 2021 – Ubisoft Employees Sign Letter Supporting Activision Blizzard Walkout, Demand Better From Ubisoft
Nearly 500 Ubisoft employees signed an open letter asserting solidarity with Activision Blizzard as they were performing a walkout. The letter also criticized Ubisoft’s handling of last year’s sexual misconduct revelations.
“[W]e have seen nothing more than a year of kind words, empty promises and an inability or unwillingness to remove known offenders,” the letter states. “We no longer trust your commitment to address these issues at their core. You need to do more.”
July 29, 2021 – Activision Blizzard Confirms That Former Senior Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi Was Fired in 2020
Activision Blizzard confirmed that former Blizzard senior creative director Alex Afrasiabi, who was named in the DFEH lawsuit, was fired in 2020 for “misconduct in his treatment of other employees.”
In a statement to Kotaku regarding Afrasabi’s involvement in the so-called “Cosby Suite” that was a hotel room reportedly used for networking by Blizzard employees, a Blizzard spokesperson said, “An employee brought these 2013 events to our attention in June 2020. We immediately conducted our own investigation and took corrective action. At the time of the report, we had already conducted a separate investigation of Alex Afrasiabi and terminated him for his misconduct in his treatment of other employees.”
This “Cosby Suite” was the name given to Afrasiabi’s BlizzCon 2013 hotel room and was a “meeting place where many, including Afrasiabi, would pose with an actual portrait of Bill Cosby while smiling.”
IGN learned from a source that Afrasiabi was leading an incubation development team as late as May 2020.
July 31, 2021 – Security Researcher Reveals Blizzard Recruiters Harassed Her at a Job Fair
As reported by Waypoint, security researcher Emily Mitchell shared a story that showed how systemic these issues at Activision Blizzard are. In August 2015, Mitchell was looking for a job and approached the Blizzard booth to see what positions were available. While she was hoping for a new opportunity, she was instead met with harassment.
Mitchell asked about a penetration testing (or pentesting) position, which is an industry term for a security audit, and one of the Blizzard employees asked her if she was lost, while another one asked if she was at the conference with her boyfriend. The third asked if she even knew what pentesting was.
“One of them asked me when was the last time I was personally penetrated, if I liked being penetrated, and how often I got penetrated," Mitchell told Waypoint. "I was furious and felt humiliated so I took the free swag and left."
August 3, 2021 – Blizzard President J. Allen Brack Steps Down
Following the Activision Blizzard lawsuit, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack confirmed he was “leaving the company to pursue new opportunities.”
Announced by Blizzard, Brack will be replaced by “co-leader” Jen ONeal and Mike Ybarra. Oneal joined Blizzard in January 2021 after leading Vicarious Visions and Ybarra joined Blizzard in 2019 after leaving Xbox as an executive.
Brack was mentioned in the lawsuit, having reportedly only given a “slap on the wrist” to ex-creative director Alex Afrasiabi, despite having received complaints about consistent sexual misconduct at the company. He also received renewed criticism following the resurfacing of a video from BlizzCon 2010 that showed Brack and Afrasiabi laughing at a fan’s questions as to whether new female characters in World of Warcraft might be less sexualized.
August 3, 2021 - Activision Blizzard Employees Form Coalition, Reject CEO's Choice of Law Firm
A coalition of workers from across multiple Activision Blizzard development studios have sent a joint letter to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and his executive leadership team that criticizes the company's decision to hire law firm WilmerHale.
This group, which is calling itself the ABK Workers Alliance, have expressed their frustrations over not just the hiring of the law firm that is currently working on helping Amazon prevent its employees from unionizing, but also over the fact that Kotick did not "meaningfully address" workers' demands following last week's walkout.
The ABK Workers Alliance says it rejects the hiring of WilmerHale as it claims there is a conflicting interest due to its "pre-existing relationships with Activision Blizzard and its executives," WilmerHale's history of "discouraging workers' rights and collective actions," and Stephanie Avakians's history of "protecting the wealthy and powerful."
The letter also calls on Kotick and the executive leadership to full address the list of their demands, and the ABK Workers Alliance has outlined the steps they are taking internally to improve their workplace, including worker-to-worker mentorships, open listening sessions, and community meetings.
You can read the full letter here.
August 3, 2021 - Activision Blizzard Holds Earnings Call, Lawsuit Broadly Avoided
Following Brack's departure and the new employee coalition, Activision Blizzard held a scheduled earnings call. It was opened by CEO Bobby Kotick, who reiterated most of the points made in his previous statement. He particularly focused on removing those in leadership positions who were found to have contributed to toxic workplace complaints. “Our work environment – everywhere we operate – will not permit discrimination, harassment or unequal treatment," Kotick stated. "We will be the company that sets the example for this in our industry. While we’ve taken many steps towards this objective already, today we are taking even more.”
Later in the call, new Blizzard co-leaders Jen Oneal gave her first statement, but broadly avoided answering a question related to rebuilding employee morale in the wake of the allegations and lawsuit. In fact, only two questions from investors focused on the recent controversies. However, per Polygon, an investor has filed a class action against the company for failing to disclose the first lawsuit and subsequently damaging share price.
August 6, 2021 - More Activision Blizzard Fallout As Advertisers "Reevaluate" Overwatch League Relationship
Key advertisers say they are re-evaluating their relationship with the Overwatch League in the wake of California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit against Activision Blizzard.
According to new statements acquired by The Washington Post, both Coca-Cola and State Farm, who are two of Overwatch League’s seven sponsors, say they are re-assessing how to move forward with Activision Blizzard’s popular esports league.
In a statement, State Farm says it is “reevaluating our limited marketing relationship with the Overwatch League” and has asked that none of its ads run during the matches this weekend.
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola says it is “aware of the allegations surrounding Activision Blizzard” and that is “working with our partners at Blizzard as we take a step back for a moment to revisit future plans and programs,” according to the beverage giant.
August 10, 2021 - Activision Blizzard Investment Group Criticises the Company, Demands More
SOC, an investment group and shareholder of Activision Blizzard, has criticised the company's response to facing a recent high-profile lawsuit and widespread allegations fo a toxic work culture – and made demands for it to change.
As reported by Axios, SOC executive director Dieter Waizeneggar called the management response to Activision Blizzard's reported toxic work culture problems "inadequate", and called on the company to do more to tackle the issues it's facing.
In a letter (published on Twitter by Axios' Megan Farokhmanesh), Waizeneggar said that the updated statement from CEO Bobby Kotick included "improved tone and increased detail", but did not "go nearly far enough to address the deep and widespread issues with equity, inclusion, and human capital management." Waizeneggar also agrees with the ABK Workers Alliance in rejecting Activision Blizzard's choice to institute law firm WilmerHale as an auditor.
The letter calls on Activision Blizzard to add a woman director to the board by the end of 2021, commit to generder balance on the board by 2025, claw back bonuses from executives found to have enabled abusive behaviour, cancel executive bonuses for 2021, award bonuses based on achieving diversity goals in future, and conduct a company-wide Equity Review.
August 11, 2021 - Three Senior Blizzard Devs Leave the Company
Three senior Blizzard employees are no longer with the company. Diablo 4 director Luis Barriga, lead level designer Jesse McCree, and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft have departed amid the ongoing allegations of harassment and abusive culture within Blizzard. Their names are no longer in the company directory, and a source within Blizzard confirmed to IGN that they have also been removed from the company Slack channel.
While the development teams were reportedly informed of their departure, there has been no internal communication on the matter within Activision Blizzard, IGN's source says. No official reasoning has been given for their departure.
Both McCree and LeCraft were tied to the recent "Cosby Suite" report, which revealed that Blizzard developers would gather within a hotel suite to drink and make sexual remarks about women. Barriga had been with Blizzard since 2006 and worked on Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls and World of Warcraft: Legion.
McCree was the namesake of the Overwatch hero of the same name, and some players have now called for the game to rename the character. The Overwatch team has not commented on the fan requests.
August 25, 2021 - HR Accused of Shredding Documents
The California Department of Fair Employment & Housing [DFEH] updated its lawsuit, adding temp workers to the original complaint while accusing the publisher of withholding key documents.
One of the key passages says that "documents and records have not been maintained as required by law" and that "documents related to investigations and complaints were shredded by human resource personnel and emails are deleted 30 days after an employee's separation."
Activision Blizzard denied the claims that it had shredded documents.
August 27, 2021 - Overwatch Will Change Name of Character Named After Developer
Blizzard and the Overwatch developers have announced it is changing the name of the hero formerly known as McCree. The hero was named after Blizzard employee Jesse McCree, who was previously lead designer on Diablo 4 but is no longer at the company.
In a statement on the official Overwatch Twitter account, the developers announced that it will change McCree's name to "something that better represents what Overwatch stands for." Furthermore, the developers announced that going forward in-game characters will no longer be named after real employees.
Jesse McCree was a well-known senior developer, but in the ensuing investigations since the Activision Blizzard lawsuit, revealed that McCree was part of the "Cosby Crew" a group of developers who would host alcohol-fueled parties in the so-called "Cosby Suite."
September 14, 2021 - Former Disney Exec Hired to Oversee HR and Rebuild Trust
Activision Blizzard has announced it has hired Julie Hodges from The Walt Disney Company to become the new Chief People Officer and help “build a more inclusive workplace.”
Hodges was previously senior vice president of corporate HR, compensation, benefits, and talent acquisition at The Walt Disney Company. According to a press release provided by Activision Blizzard, Hodges was responsible for helping shape corporate culture at Disney.
Hodges will oversee all aspects of human resources “including diversity, equity and inclusion, talent acquisition, employee experience, learning and development, compensation, and benefits and workplace planning,” at Activision Blizzard.
September 14, 2021 - Activision Blizzard Employees Accuse Company of Union Busting
Employees of Activision Blizzard under the banner of the ABK Workers Alliance, with the support of the Communication Workers of America guild (CWA), have filed an unfair labor practice suit with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging the company has engaged in union-busting and intimidation of workers.
In a press release, ABK Workers and CWA accuse Activision Blizzard of "using coercive tactics to attempt to prevent its employees from exercising their rights to stand together and demand a more equitable, sustainable, and diverse workplace."
The complaint itself alleges that Activision-Blizzard has threatened employees, told them they cannot discuss wages, hours, or working conditions, "maintained an overly broad social media policy" and then both engaged in surveillance and enforced its policy against employees who "engaged in protected concerted activity."
September 20, 2021 - SEC Investigating Activision Blizzard, Subpoenas Bobby Kotick
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is now also investigating Activision Blizzard for how the company handled allegations of sexual misconduct and workplace discrimination. This is a separate investigation following a similar lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed Activision, including CEO Bobby Kotick. The SEC is requesting documents from Activision board meetings from 2019, personnel files for former employees as well as separation agreements the company made this year.
The SEC also requested communication logs between Kotick and other Activision senior executives, particularly in regards to anything about sexual harassment or discrimination complaints.
September 21, 2021 - Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Reportedly Discussing Settlement With Activision Blizzard
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also been investigating Activision Blizzard, with the games publisher reportedly discussing a settlement that could cost it millions of dollars.
Per the Wall Street Journal, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reportedly been investigating harassment at Activision Blizzard since May 2020. A subsequent press release from Activision Blizzard confirmed that it was "actively engaged in continued discussions with the EEOC and has cooperated with the EEOC’s investigation concerning certain employment practices." The WSJ reports that those discussions involve a settlement worth potentially millions of dollars.
Bobby Kotick provided a statement on the situation, saying, "While we continue to work in good faith with regulators to address and resolve past workplace issues, we also continue to move ahead with our own initiatives to ensure that we are the very best place to work. We remain committed to addressing all workplace issues in a forthright and prompt manner."
September 21, 2021 - Blizzard's Chief Legal Officer Leaves Company
As the publisher faces multiple legal challenges, Blizzard Entertainment's chief legal officer, Claire Hart has left the company. Announcing the move on LinkedIn, Hart gave no specific reasoning for her departure:
"After more than three years at Blizzard Entertainment, I have decided to move on to my next adventure. Friday was my last day. The past three years have been full of unexpected twists and turns, but I feel honored to have worked with and met so many great people at Blizzard and across the Activision Blizzard businesses. I'll be taking a short break before making my next move. Stay tuned!"
September 21, 2021 - Executive In Charge of Overwatch 2 Leaves Blizzard
Overwatch Executive Producer Chacko Sonny is leaving Blizzard Entertainment. A Blizzard spokesman confirmed to Bloomberg that Chacko, who oversees the whole Overwatch franchise and development for the sequel, will leave the company. "[Blizzard] has been an absolute privilege and one of the best experiences of my career," Sonny said in an email to staff, according to Bloomberg.
Blizzard also says that Overwatch 2 is nearing the end of production at the time of Sonny's exit. An update on Overwatch 2 will be provided later this month, and the timeline on it may have shifted considering Overwatch 2 was reportedly still years out from launch.
While Sonny's departure could be unrelated to the investigations, this is far from the first high-level departure from the Overwatch team, or Activision Blizzard as a whole. Overwatch 2 director Jeff Kaplan also left the company but that was in April 2021, before California's lawsuit was issued in July.
September 27, 2021 - Activision Blizzard Settles U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission Lawsuit for $18 Million
Activision Blizzard was sued by yet another government agency, and this time it was the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC]. The lawsuit comes after a three-year investigation by the agency, and it alleges that female employees were harassed, paid less, and retaliated against for complaining.
The EEOC is demanding that Activision Blizzard compensate affected employees with back pay and damages and that it must "institute and carry out policies, practices, and programs to ensure equal employment opportunities, and which eradicate the effects of its past and present unlawful employment practices."
After receiving the lawsuit, Activision Blizzard said it was creating an $18 million fund to compensate those employees who were subject to discrimination and harassment. It also promised to upgrade its policies and practices to "prevent and eliminate harassment and discrimination" in the workplace and overhaul its performance review system.
"There is no place anywhere at our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind, and I am grateful to the employees who bravely shared their experiences," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said. "I am sorry that anyone had to experience inappropriate conduct, and I remain unwavering in my commitment to make Activision Blizzard one of the world’s most inclusive, respected, and respectful workplaces."
Kotick also called this agreement "constructive" and said he would "be vigilant" against harassment going forward.
In addition to the fund, Activision Blizzard will also have a third-party equal consultant review its new initiatives. Furthermore, any money that will not be given as compensation will be divided between charities that "advance women in the video game industry" or "promote awareness around harassment and gender equality" as approved by the EEOC.
October 12, 2021 - Activision Blizzard Lawsuits Hit a Major Snag
New information linked to the $18 million settlement between Activision Blizzard and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC] has shown potential ethical violations that may have a larger effect on the wider lawsuit between the company and California's Department for Employment and Housing [DFEH].
As reported by PC Gamer, the DFEH objected to a settlement between the EEOC and Activision Blizzard last week, on the basis the terms of the settlement could seal evidence necessary to its own case and cause harm to the DFEH's lawsuit against the company.
In response, a document filed by the EEOC opposing the DFEH's appeal raised a number of points and seemingly unearthed information that could not only undermine the department's appeal against the settlement but also its wider legal argument against Activision Blizzard.
October 19, 2021 - Activision Blizzard Says More Than 20 Employees Have Been Fired
More than 20 Activision Blizzard employees have been fired since harassment allegations first came to light, according to Frances Townsend, Activision Blizzard's executive vice president for corporate affairs. In addition, more than 20 others have faced "other types of disciplinary action."
Activision Blizzard's announcements came as part of a larger update in which Townsend outlined the publisher's response to the various allegations that have dogged the company since the summer. They include adding three more positions to the company's Ethics and Compliance team, with 19 more planned for the future. Activision Blizzard also says its will "triple" its investment into training resources.
It is not clear if Activision Blizzard's list includes prominent Blizzard veterans Luis Barriga, Jesse McCree, and Jonathan LeCraft, who were dismissed from the company in August.
October 26, 2021 - Blizzard Cancels BlizzConline, Plans to Reimagine Future Events
In a blog post, Blizzard said it wanted to focus its energy it would normally spend on putting on an event elsewhere, specifically toward "supporting our teams and progressing development of our games and experiences."
Blizzard still plans on announcing updates on its games in February 2022 around the time the event would have taken place, but it will do so without a live event as it has done in the past.
November 2, 2021 - Blizzard Co-Leader Jen Oneal Stepping Down From Position and Leaving Company
Jen Oneal stepped down as a co-leader of Blizzard and Mike Ybarra, the other co-leader of the company, will now lead Blizzard for the time being. Oneal and Ybarra both were appointed co-leader following Blizzard president J. Allen Brack's resignation in August.
Oneal will take on a different role in Blizzard until the end of the year when she plans to leave the company. Oneal served as co-leader for three months, and brought with her experience from running Vicarious Visions and being part of the Activision family for more than 20 years.
In a blog post, Oneal shared a bit more about her decision to step down, saying she plans to focus on promoting diversity and inclusion in the video game industry.
"I am doing this not because I am without hope for Blizzard, quite the opposite--I’m inspired by the passion of everyone here, working towards meaningful, lasting change with their whole hearts," Oneal wrote. "This energy has inspired me to step out and explore how I can do more to have games and diversity intersect, and hopefully make a broader industry impact that will benefit Blizzard (and other studios) as well."
November 16, 2021 - New Report Alleges CEO Bobby Kotick Knew About Allegations "For Years"
A new report claims that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick knew about alleged sexual assault and harassment allegations within company-owned studios, but did not disclose the information to the company's board.
The same report states that Jen Oneal – who was recently made co-head of the company before announcing her departure just three months later – has previously experienced harassment at the company, was paid less than her male counterpart Mike Ybarra, and had said she was "tokenized" by the company.
A new Wall Street Journal report continues the long-running scandal within Activision Blizzard, which came to light when the state of California filed a lawsuit against the company. The report centres on Kotick, and says that internal documents and sources familiar with the company show that the CEO was aware of many of the reported abuses within the company – including accusations of rape that were emailed directly to Kotick – but did not inform the board of everything he knew. The report also includes a number of new accusations against current and former employees.
November 17, 2021 - Former Blizzard Co-Lead Jen Oneal Says She Was Offered Equal Contract Only After Resigning
Amid the WSJ report on Bobby Kotick (above), additional reports emerged that former Blizzard co-lead Jennifer Oneal wanted to resign in part due to issues that included being paid less than her male counterpart, Mike Ybarra. Ybarra has now told Blizzard employees he and Oneal asked for pay parity together, but Oneal says she was offered an equal contract only after resigning from the role.
Ybarra responded to allegations in internal messages separately confirmed by multiple Blizzard employees. The messages, screenshots of which were viewed by IGN, were posted in a public Slack channel and directed to Blizzard employees. Ybarra explained that, "Jen and I shared with management that we wanted to be paid the same to co-lead Blizzard together," adding that they had entered their new roles on existing previous contracts, explaining their pay difference.
However, Oneal seemingly sought to clarify the situation further, adding details that Ybarra had not mentioned. In additional conversations viewed by IGN, Oneal responded forcefully to Ybarra’s comments, saying that Activision Blizzard had rejected the pay parity request on multiple occasions.
She continued, “While the company informed me before I tendered my resignation that they were working on a new proposal, we were made equivalent offers only after I tendered that resignation.” (Emphasis Oneal’s)
November 18, 2021 - Xbox and PlayStation Bosses Speak Out About Scandal
Sony Interactive Entertainment boss Jim Ryan and Head of Xbox Phil Spencer have both spoken out about the scandal. Ryan told employees that he was "disheartened and frankly stunned" at the recent developments, while Spencer said he was "disturbed and deeply troubled" by the reported events at the company.
Spencer went as far as to say that he was "evaluating all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and making ongoing proactive adjustments."
In a response, Activision Blizzard said, "We respect all feedback from our valued partners and are engaging with them further. We have detailed important changes we have implemented in recent weeks, and we will continue to do so."
November 18, 2021 - Over 1,000 Activision Blizzard Employees Sign Petition For Removal Of Bobby Kotick
Over 1,000 employees at Activision Blizzard have signed a petition calling for the removal of CEO Bobby Kotick, who has been under fire this week following revelations from the Wall Street Journal that he was aware of the publisher's culture of harassment "for years."
The petition encompasses virtually every part of Activision Blizzard's business, with employees from Activision, Blizzard, King, Infinity Ward, Raven Software, Toys For Bob, and other studios all signing on. The intro reads:
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.
November 22, 2021 - Activision Blizzard CEO Would Reportedly 'Consider' Stepping Down If He Can't Fix Problems Quickly
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has reportedly told senior managers at the company that he will consider stepping down from his position if he isn't able to quickly fix the ongoing problems at the publisher.
In a report by the Wall Street Journal, sources familiar with Kotick have said that the Activision CEO made comments during a meeting with executives on Friday that left open the possibility of his departure if misconduct issues present within the company weren't fixed "with speed."
November 22, 2021 - Nintendo Joins Sony And Xbox In Calling Activision Blizzard Crisis 'Disturbing'
Nintendo has joined the likes of Sony and Xbox, speaking out against Activision Blizzard due to recent reports of sexual misconduct and toxicity.
In a new report by Fanbyte, Doug Bowser reportedly expressed concern over the ongoing situation at Activision Blizzard in a company-wide email, calling the allegations "distressing and disturbing."
“Along with all of you, I’ve been following the latest developments with Activision Blizzard and the ongoing reports of sexual harassment and toxicity at the company,” he explained. “I find these accounts distressing and disturbing. They run counter to my values as well as Nintendo’s beliefs, values and policies.”
The email reportedly goes on to explain that Nintendo is committed to providing an “open and inclusive” workplace and expects the same from the industry and its partners. Bowser also states that Nintendo has been “in contact with Activision, have taken action and are assessing others.” Although the email apparently stops short of giving further details.
November 22, 2021 - Activision Blizzard Quietly Sets Up a 'Workplace Responsibility Committee
Activision Blizzard has announced the creation of a Workplace Responsibility Committee, but has been criticised for the manner in which it was announced.
Announced in a press release at 7.30pm Pacific time, the committee will be made up of two independent directors, who will "oversee the Company’s progress in successfully implementing its new policies, procedures, and commitments to improve workplace culture and eliminate all forms of harassment and discrimination at the Company." It will require management, including CEO Bobby Kotick, to develop means of measuring success in those areas and deliver progress reports. The press release adds that, "the Company is working to add a new, diverse director to the Board."
Many have been quick to point out that the committee is initially made up of existing board members who have been present during the ongoing scandals within the company, that the press release makes no mention of including Activision Blizzard employees below board level, and that the announcement was made outside of regular office hours, a time during which it would presumably not receive as much response from employees and the wider public.
November 30, 2021 - Walkout Organizer Resigns, Calls Out Bobby Kotick's 'Inaction'
Jessica Gonzalez, a senior test analyst at Blizzard and one of the primary organizers of the July 28 walkout, has resigned from the company. In a statement posted on Twitter, Gonzalez said she was "putting my wellbeing first", and was moving out of game development entirely.
"There are good people in the industry," Gonzalez wrote, "and I believe with enough education and awareness ABK can be a great place to be. There's lots of work to do still and I am mentally wounded from this fight. It's been a long and exhausting road for change, but it isn't over."
Gonzalez added a message directed to CEO Bobby Kotick: "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 currently stands."
December 6, 2021 - Raven Software QA Team Walks Out, Gains Support from Colleagues
Members of the Raven Software QA team announced a walkout to protest the layoffs of over a dozen QA contractors working on Call of Duty games like Vanguard and Warzone. The walkout subsequently garnered the support of the wider Activision Blizzard companies with walkouts from ABK employees in Texas, Minnesota, and California joining in.
According to the ABetterABK employee group, quality assurance testers in Texas, Minnesota, and Blizzard’s Irvine headquarters will join Raven Software employees in solidarity. Raven’s QA testers are demanding Activision Blizzard reinstate these contractors and convert them to full-time employees.
The walkout is a mix of real-life and virtual as employees at Raven’s Wisconsin headquarters posted a photo of them protesting outside the company. Meanwhile, Activision employees elsewhere are walking out virtually. On social media, supporters are sharing solidarity through the hashtag #WeAreRaven.
December 9, 2021 - Activision Blizzard Staff Announce Start of New Strike Action
The ABK Workers Alliance, a collective of Activision Blizzard and King employees, initiated strike action against its employer. The group plans to continue its work stoppage until its demands are met. This follows walkouts from other Activision Blizzard groups, including Raven’s QA department.
A Gofundme page allows supporters to provide financial donations to help participating Activision Blizzard and King staff through their work stoppage. “For those who wish to join in solidarity, please consider donating to our Strike Fund,” said the tweet. The fund has a goal of $1 million.
January 6, 2022 - Activision Blizzard Strike Fund Passes $350,000 as Management Finally Replies
A spokesperson for Activision has finally issued a response to the ongoing strikes by employees at the company. While the spokesperson has said that leadership has "engaged" with staff over their concerns, the strike action has now entered its third week, with an ABK Workers Alliance Strike Fund having now raised over $350,000.
In a statement issued to gamesindustry.biz, a spokesperson from Activision has said that management at Raven Software has been speaking to its employees in order to listen to their concerns. "Activision is deeply committed to the wellbeing of all of our teams, including our QA workforce," the statement read.
The statement from Activision comes just days after the ABK Workers alliance issued a statement on Twitter detailing a letter sent by Raven QA to leadership on January 4. As part of the letter, the group issued a number of topics that it wished to discuss with leadership, including the context of the situation from the leadership's perspective, its goals for the QA department moving forward, and relocation packages for those affected who moved to Wisconsin.
January 17, 2022 - ActiBlizz Has Removed Almost 40 Employees for Misconduct Since July 2021
According to the Wall Street Journal, Activision Blizzard has 'fired or pushed out' 37 employees, and disciplined 44 more, for misconduct since July 2021. The Journal also says that these figures – in the form of a summary of personnel decisions – were held back by CEO Bobby Kotick as they could be seen to make the company's workplace issues look even worse than they already do. Activision spokeswoman Helaine Klasky denied that assertion. Activision apparently collected 700 reports of employee concern as part of that summary (although Klasky disputes that number). It's unclear when such a summary will be released.
January 18, 2022 - Xbox To Buy Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick's Future Uncertain
Xbox announced a deal to buy Activision Blizzard for a stupefying $68.7 billion. Expected to complete by Microsoft's financial year 2023, the deal will see all Activision, Blizzard, and King studios and franchises become Microsoft-owned. The two companies will work independently until that time.
Bobby Kotick will remain as company CEO until that deal closes, but the executive's future is less certain beyond that point. Officially, Microsoft says that no decision has been made regarding Kotick's future, but confirmed all Activision Blizzard studios would report to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer after the acquisition. Wall Street Journal sources subsequently said Kotick was expected to leave after that time.
With so much time remaining until the deal closes, it's unclear if Microsoft will inherit the current lawsuit targeting Activision Blizzard. The Activision Blizzard King Workers Alliance continued to call for Kotick's resignation after the announcement.
January 21, 2022 - Bobby Kotick Reportedly Turned Up Late and Left Early from a Meeting Meant to Reassure Employees
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick reportedly turned up late and left early from a 'fireside chat' meeting that was meant to reassure employees of Activision Blizzard about the future.
As reported by The Washington Post, the meeting, which was scheduled to last half an hour and was billed as a 'fireside chat', allegedly only lasted 16 minutes after Kotick himself turned up seven minutes late and finished the meeting early.
One employee, who wished to remain anonymous, allegedly told the Washington Post after the fireside meeting that they were optimistic over the deal with Microsoft but remained "wary" of Kotick. “All the fear and anger felt is still tied up in Bobby Kotick and what harm he will inflict until the torch is passed to Microsoft,” the Blizzard employee said.
January 21, 2022 - Raven QA Employees Form Activision Blizzard's First Union
A group of Raven Software QA employees have become the first Activision Blizzard workers to form a union by launching the Game Workers Alliance with Communications Workers of America.
As per a press release, Quality Assurance workers at Raven Software have announced that they are launching the Game Workers Alliance (CWA), a union that marks the first of its kind at Activision Blizzard. Members at the department have requested voluntary recognition from Activision Blizzard management in alignment with the desire of a supermajority of their workforce.
Activision Blizzard issued an extended statement to IGN regarding the newly formed union saying the company is "carefully reviewing the request for voluntary recognition," and that it "deeply respect the rights of all employees under the law to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union."
January 24, 2022 - Raven Software Workers Call Off Strike After Announcing Union
Members of the Raven Software QA team, alongside other Activision Blizzard workers, have called off their strike action.
The decision to end strike action was announced on social media by the Activision Blizzard Workers Alliance Twitter account. "Pending the recognition of our union, the Raven QA strike has ended," read a statement from the account, which then went on to thank the community for its support throughout the strike.
The group highlighted it was still waiting for positive or negative recognition of its union from Activision Blizzard, but that it was "acting in good faith and asking for good faith," by ending the strike.
The Entire Raven Software QA Unionization Timeline: The Story So Far
February 11, 2022 - Microsoft Promises To Put the ‘Right People in the Right Position’ To Improve Activision Blizzard Culture
Microsoft has committed to putting "the right people in the right position" at the helm of Activision Blizzard amid the ongoing serious allegations around the company's toxic workplace culture.
As reported by VGC, Microsoft president Brad Smith told CNBC that his company is looking at the current leadership team at Activision Blizzard, and that there will be "change" to some aspects should the acquisition deal proceed.
He said: "We're looking to the leadership team at Activision Blizzard today to make culture and workplace safety a top priority every single day, until the day when this deal hopefully closes. And then we'll take over and we need to make that same commitment.
"There will be some aspects that will change but it will all be one new team that will work together," he continued. "Most importantly, we want to see the culture evolve, and we'll see how people perform between now and the day this closes, assuming it's approved. And then we'll have the opportunity to make sure that we have the right people in the right position."
February 21, 2022 - Microsoft Approached Activision Blizzard About an Acquisition Just 3 Days After Bobby Kotick Report
On November 16, the Wall Street Journal reported that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick knew about the sexual assault and misconduct allegations happening at the company but did not disclose that info to the company's board. Just three days later, on November 19, CEO of Microsoft Gaming Phil Spencer initiated a call with Kotick that would lead to Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion.
These details and more were revealed in a regulatory filing that was shared via CNBC and show that Spencer had been discussing "a different topic" before telling Kotick that Microsoft wanted to talk to him about strategic opportunities between the two companies.
"On November 19, 2021, in the course of a conversation on a different topic between Mr. Spencer and Mr. Kotick, Mr. Spencer raised that Microsoft was interested in discussing strategic opportunities between Activision Blizzard and Microsoft and asked whether it would be possible to have a call with Mr. Nadella the following day. Mr. Kotick agreed to participate in such discussion," the filing reads. "In a call on November 20, 2021, between Messrs. Kotick and Nadella, Mr. Nadella indicated that Microsoft was interested in exploring a strategic combination with Activision Blizzard."
February 23, 2022 - Activision CEO Eligible for Over $22m in Stock Bonuses if Work Culture Improves Enough
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick could be given $22 million in stock if he improves the company's culture under Microsoft ownership.
Activision Blizzard's Workplace Responsibility Committee, that was set up in November, will determine when the company has made "appropriate progress" towards the achievement of its goals.
These include: launching a new zero-tolerance harassment policy, increasing the percentage of women and non-binary people in Activision Blizzard’s workforce by 50%, investing $250 million to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent, waiving arbitration of individual sexual harassment claims, and increasing visibility on pay equity.
The filing also adds to the ongoing conversation around Kotick's future at the company as it states his contract could be extended by 12 months past its current March 2023 expiration.
March 4, 2022 - Activision Blizzard Sued By Family Of Employee Who Died By Suicide
The family of an Activision Blizzard employee who died by suicide in 2017 is suing the company for wrongful death. The complaint claims that sexual harassment at the company was a significant factor in the death of their daughter Kerri Moynihan, 32, who was found dead at an Activision Blizzard company retreat in 2017.
The lawsuit calls Activision Blizzard liable for preventing the harassment Moynihan faced while working for the company including at a holiday party where explicit photos were passed around among employees. The wrongful death lawsuit also claims that Moynihan's direct manager, who has since departed Blizzard, lied to investigators from the Anaheim Police Department about his relationship with her.
According to The Washington Post, Moynihan is referenced in the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit that was filed back in July last year. Activision Blizzard previously called the details in the DFEH lawsuit "distorted, and in many cases false."
March 9, 2022 - Report: Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard Deal Being Investigated for Insider Trading
Three investors are being investigated for investing $108 million in Activision just days before Microsoft acquired the company and the shares increased in value to $168 million.
Barry Diller, one of the three being investigated, has described himself as a "long term friend" of Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and served on Coca-Cola's board of directors with him. Another, Alexander von Furstenberg, is the stepson of Diller and the third, David Geffen, is another long time friend.
Diller told The Wall Street Journal that none of the men had insider information about Microsoft's impending acquisition of Activision Blizzard and said it was just a coincidence and a "lucky bet".
The investments were made by privately arranged transactions through JPMorgan Chase & Co, who later reported the trades to law enforcement after the deal became public. This prompted the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to both open investigations into the matter.
March 25, 2022 - Microsoft Won’t Block a Potential Activision Blizzard Union
Microsoft has stated it "will not stand in the way" of a potential Activision Blizzard union after 15 Raven Software employees signed a letter to CEO Satya Nadella asking him to encourage Activision Blizzard to voluntarily recognize the Game Workers Alliance union.
"Microsoft respects Activision Blizzard employees’ right to choose whether to be represented by a labor organization and we will honor those decisions,” corporate vice president and general counsel Lisa Tanzi said.
The letter also denounced Reed Smith, a law firm retained by Activision Blizzard, for its part in publishing anti-union material on its website including a PowerPoint presentation that features a slide titled "Types of Employees Unions Exploit."
March 29, 2022 - Activision Blizzard Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $18 Million
U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer is "prepared to approved" an $18 million settlement between Activision Blizzard and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over its sexual harassment lawsuit.
Once finalized, Activision will agree to create an $18 million fund to compensate eligible claimants, continue enhancing policies, practices, and training to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and engage a third-party equal employment opportunity consultant approved by the EEOC.
“We are gratified that the federal court that reviewed our settlement with the EEOC is finding that it is ‘fair, reasonable and adequate and advance(s) the public interest,’” Activision Blizzard said in a statement.
April 1, 2022 - Bernie Sanders And Other Senators Raise Concerns About Xbox's Activision Blizzard Deal
Bernie Sanders and three other U.S. senators have raised concerns about Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, saying they are "deeply concerned about consolidation in the tech industry and its impact on workers."
The letter, signed by Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Sheldon Whitehouse, continued: "Workers at Activision Blizzard, following years of rampant sexual misconduct and discrimination and unfair labor practices, have led calls for greater transparency and accountability in the gaming industry, and we are deeply concerned that this acquisition could further disenfranchise these workers and prevent their voices from being heard.
"As this proposed deal moves forward in the review process, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should assess whether the ways in which these companies have failed to protect the rights and dignity of their workers are driven by monopsony power or amount to anticompetitive harms in our labor market, and if so, if the merger will exacerbate these problems."
April 1, 2022 - Activision Blizzard Employees Stage Walkout Over Scrapped Vaccine Requirements
Activision Blizzard employees are staging another walkout next week, this one over the end of the company-wide vaccine mandate.
The mandate was removed "effective immediately" in an announcement obtained by Kotaku. Activision Blizzard Chief Administrative Officer Brian Bulatao cited the desire to return the benefits of "in-person collaboration" in the announcement.
An employee spokesperson released a statement to IGN with their list of demands: an immediate reversal to lifting the vaccine requirement, remote work should be offered as a permanent solution, and the decision to work remote or in office should be made by each individual employee.
April 4, 2022 - Activision Blizzard Reverses Course On Vaccine Policy
Blizzard sent an email soon after the announced walkout clarifying that proof of vaccination will be required "for at least the next few months." Activision Blizzard Chief Administrative Officer Brian Bulatao previously clarified that Activision Blizzard would be operating on a "voluntary return to office opportunity."
The ABK Workers Alliance said on Twitter that at least four studios within Activision Blizzard are following Blizzard's lead. The group will go forward with its planned walkout with updated demands: make working from home an open and equitable option for all employees, and reverse the lifting of the vaccine mandate for all other studios who haven't yet walked it back.
April 7, 2022 - Activision Blizzard Is Converting All QA to Full-Time Employees
Activision Blizzard has announced that it will be converting nearly 1,100 US-based temporary and contingent QA workers to full-time positions. The change will increase Activision Publishing’s total full-time staff by 25%, following a recent conversion of nearly 500 contractors to full-time employees.
Along with the move to full-time, QA workers will have their hourly rate increased to $20 per hour, and be able to partake in the company’s bonus plan and have access to full-time benefits.
Activision Publishing COO Josh Taub said in an email to staff: During the last two years, Call of Duty has expanded and evolved. Our development cycles have gone from an annual release to an “always on” model. In response to greater engagement, we’ve increased our live services business across all platforms. In light of these changes, and as we look to our ambitious plans for the future, we are further refining how our development teams work together.”
April 7, 2022 - Unionised Raven Employees Will Not Receive Pay Increases Alongside QA Workers at Activision Blizzard
An Activision Blizzard spokesperson told Bloomberg that Raven employees who formed a union earlier this year will not receive new pay bumps "due to legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act."
The CWA responded to Activision's claims calling the move "galling" that "Activision has excluded Raven Software QA workers, who have been at the forefront of this effort, from these benefits."
Activision responded to Kotaku by citing Labor Board v. Exchange Parts Co., 375 U.S. 405 (1964) which states employers could violate the National Labor Relations Act if they confer economic benefits on its employees for the purpose of inducing them to vote against the union.
April 12, 2022 - Activision Blizzard's New Diversity Chief Wants to Expand Diversity in the Office, and In Games
Activision Blizzard’s new Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Kristen Hines will join the studio from April 25 and plans to increase the number of women and non-binary employees by 50%.
Activision has confirmed that Hines will play a “crucial role” in the company’s efforts to increase the number of women and non-binary employees in its workforce over the next five years.
Hines said in a statement: "Gaming has amazing potential to connect communities around the world and showcase heroes from all backgrounds. I am looking forward to playing a part in expanding the landscape of talent who brings these compelling experiences to a broad base of players."
April 14, 2022 - California Governor Gavin Newsom Accused Of Interfering In Activision Blizzard Lawsuit
Allegations were made by Melanie Proctor, assistant chief counsel for California's Department for Fair Employment and Housing, after her boss, Chief Counsel Janette Wipper, was fired by the governor last month.
As reported by Bloomberg, Proctor resigned in protest to the firing and sent an email to staff saying the governor "began to interfere" in recent weeks and, "as we continued to win in state court, this interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision's counsel."
Newsom's communication director Erin Mellon said "claims of interference by our office are categorically false", adding that the governor's office "will continue to support DFEH in their efforts to fight all forms of discrimination and protect Californians."
April 18, 2022 - Activision Says Microsoft and Bobby Kotick Haven't Discussed If He'll Stay Post-Closing
Activision Blizzard has stated that its CEO Bobby Kotick and Microsoft have not yet discussed what his employment status will be following Microsoft's acquisition of the company.
As spotted by Axios' Stephen Totilo, Activision added a line to its United States Securities and Exchange Commission filing about the planned sale to Microsoft that made clear these talks have not happened yet.
"No discussions or negotiations regarding post-closing employment arrangements with Microsoft occurred between Microsoft and Mr. Kotick prior to the approval and execution of the merger agreement and the transactions contemplated thereby, or have occurred subsequent to such approval and execution, through the date hereof," the filing reads.
April 28, 2022 - Activision Blizzard Stockholders Approve Microsoft Acquisition, But Questions Remain
Activision Blizzard shareholders voted today to approve the company's pending acquisition by Microsoft, but that doesn't mean it's a done deal, with several other hurdles remaining.
Over 98% of shares voted in favor of the acquisition, which is expected to close sometime in the upcoming Microsoft fiscal year, which is between July 2022 and June 2023.
The voters approved the acquisition at $95 per share - considerably higher than the share price of late, which has been slowly dropping over the last month from the low-$80 range and has been hovering between $76 and $77 per share for the last few days.
The lowering share price ahead of the deal could indicate a lack of shareholder confidence that the deal will ultimately pass.
May 4, 2022 - New York City Files Complaint Against Activision Blizzard for Wrongdoing Tied to Microsoft Acquisition
Multiple New York City funds have banded together to file a complaint against Activision Blizzard, alleging that CEO Bobby Kotick and the board may have breached their fiduciary dity in their dealings with Microsoft to be acquired, and harmed the company's value.
The suit was filed on May 2 by the New York City Employees', Board of Education, and Teachers' retirement systems, as well as pension funds for the city fire department, and police — all of which hold stock in Activision Blizzard.
The plaintiffs are claiming their right to inspect various Activision Blizzard records to determine if any wrongdoing was done through the acquisition process, citing a number of concerns to back their demand.
Plaintiffs point out that if the merger goes through, it will "have the effect of extinguishing these highly valuable derivative claims against Activision's Board" as well as Kotick, who will be "able to escape liability and accountability entirely."
Activision Blizzard told IGN in response: "We disagree with the allegations made in this complaint and look forward to presenting our arguments to the Court."
May 6, 2022 - Blizzard Hires Its First VP of Culture to Make the Company 'More Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive'
Blizzard Entertainment has hired Jessica Martinez as its first Vice President, Head of Culture as part of its "ongoing initiative to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace culture where people at every level can learn, grow, and bring their most creative selves to their work."
The company said that Jessica and other members of the leadership team will be in charge of "implementing our culture strategy, ensuring alignment across all teams and functions, and revamping learning and talent development programs."
“When you create a people-first environment where teams feel safe, valued, and work together toward a shared purpose, everyone thrives–the employees, the players, and the business," Martinez said. "Making the values of our connections show up in what we do is how we bring humanity back to business."
Jessica comes to Blizzard with more than 14 years of experience at The Walt Disney Company, where she was a leader in strategy, communications, operations, and employee experience. She served as Chief of Staff and was a key strategic advisor to both the Chief Security Office and the Chief Technology & Digital Officer for Disney Parks & Resorts.
She was also an integral part of Disney's 21st Century Fox acquisition, and was a champion of "creating a values-driven culture that connected global teams and celebrated diversity."
May 9, 2022 - Activision Blizzard Is Sending Anti-Union Emails Ahead of Raven Software Vote
Activision Blizzard is actively discouraging Raven Software QA employees from voting in favor of unionization, ahead of an ongoing election with a deadline of May 20.
Raven management has been sending employees messages and holding town hall meetings about the election, including an April 26 town hall where employees were told that unionization might harm game development and impact promotions or benefits.
Following that event, an email was reportedly send around to employees with a graphic attached that read, "Please vote no".
May 23, 2022 - Raven Software QA Workers Officially Vote to Unionize
A group of quality assurance employees at Raven Software have officially voted in favor of unionization with the National Labor Relations Board, with a final vote total of 19 for and three against.
The vote count was announced today over an official webcast meeting. Approximately 28 employees were considered eligible to vote, 24 votes were submitted, and two of the votes were challenged and rendered invalid.
The remaining group voted to legally form the Game Workers Alliance, making it the first North American video game union at a AAA gaming company. Indie studio Vodeo Games unionized late last year.
This move legally allows members of Game Workers Alliance to bargain with Activision Blizzard management over their employment contract, a process we are likely to see unfold in the coming weeks and months.
May 26, 2022 - Phil Spencer Says He Will Recognize Raven Software's Union Once Acquisition is Complete
Xbox’s head Phil Spencer announced that he will recognize the new union after the company acquires Activision Blizzard.
"Once the deal closes, we would absolutely support [an] employees’ organization that’s in place," he told employees during the internal meeting. "We think it is a right of employees and something that can be a part of a relationship between a company and people who work at the company."
June 2, 2022 - Activision Blizzard: Parents of Suicide Victim Ask for Dismissal of Lawsuit
The parents of a woman who died by suicide at an Activision Blizzard company retreat in 2017 have asked for their lawsuit against the company to be dismissed.
Their complaint claimed that sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard was a significant factor in the death of Kerri Moynihan, 32, which was also referenced in the original lawsuit against the company from the state of California over its "frat boy culture".
the parents of Moynihan asked a California court to dismiss the "entire action" of their lawsuit, originally filed in March, on May 6. They also requested it be dismissed "with prejudice", meaning the same lawsuit cannot be filed again. No public explanation was given for why the suit was pulled.