Yesterday the Wall Street Journal released a startling article on CEO Bobby Koticks involvement of Activision-Blizzards ‘frat boy culture’ and his own misconduct. Today however, the industry reels from the shocking evidence brought forward.
On the public side of things, many in the industry have spoken out for the devs working within the Activision-Blizzard umbrella. Lead director of God of War (2018) Cory Barlog tweeted his support saying “the devs at activision/blizzard deserve so much better than this”. Unions such as the Communications Workers of America and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have tweeted their support for the company’s workers. Within the company itself, development studio Toys for Bob (developers of the recent Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time) tweeted their support for their fellow workers.
On the business end of all this, Activision-Blizzard shares dropped 6% after the WSJ report. The company is also facing pressure from within, as a portion of the company’s shareholders are demanding Bobby Koticks resignation. They also demand the resignation of Brian Kelly the chairman of the Activision-Blizzard board of directors, and Robert Morgado the lead independent director. The shareholders gave a joint letter from an investment group called the Strategic Organizing Center “After the new revelations, it’s clear that the current leadership repeatedly failed to uphold a safe workplace — a basic function of their job,” If Kotick was not removed from his position, these shareholders threatened to not vote to re-elect Kelly or Morgado to the board of directors next June.
One of the biggest voices to emerge from the fallout however was PlayStation boss Jim Ryan, who sent an email to employees regarding the article posted by the WSJ. Ryan said that “We outreached to Activision immediately after the article was published to express our deep concern and to ask how they plan to address the claims made in the article,” Ryan went on to say that they did not believe they were not properly addressing the situation. Ryan summed up his email imploring any employee to report misconduct.
Lastly, in a live-streamed all-hands meeting (as of the writing of this article) leadership answered pre-screened questions and stuck by CEO Bobby Kotick. According to sources, leadership tried to address employee concerns from the WSJ article and “reiterated the company’s defenses issued yesterday”. Workers inside Activision-Blizzard learned the company extended their Thanksgiving break knowing the WSJ would release their report on Bobby Kotick, and seemingly planned a defense beforehand. When asked if Kotick would be subject to the company’s new ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’, leadership said that they did not have evidence of any of the claims made against him.