Each week seems to be worse than the last for the ongoing harassment investigation issues at Activision Blizzard. Just this week, and it’s only Wednesday, we have:
- Announces SEC is investigating Activision Blizzard’s workplace practices, and Bobby Kotick himself has been subpoenaed.
- Activision Blizzard General Counsel Claire Hart resigns as the company faces a growing number of lawsuits.
- Overwatch 2 executive producer Chacko Sonny is leaving Blizzard “for a while,” according to the company.
All of this brings me to a singular question. Will Blizzard survive all of this?
You’ll notice I’m saying Blizzard here, not Activision Blizzard King, which is a trio of publishers that make up the main set. Activision has half a dozen teams running Call of Duty and King is the eternal silver print moving arm that has not been involved in this controversy to the same degree.
The point is, Blizzard has been hit hardest by these allegations, having lost not only many core members over the years, but many in the very recent past as a result of these investigations, including the director of its project. most important game, Diablo 4. On top of that, it’s not like Blizzard is doing so well before all of this.
Activision has long been frustrated with Blizzard for failing to produce meaningful new releases within a reasonable timeframe, which is why the seemingly half-baked idea of Overwatch 2 has come to fruition, a weird sequel that’s an upgrade. free to multiplayer and the addition of some single player components for a price still unknown. But Overwatch has already lost Jeff Kaplan, its beloved leader, and now that Chacko Sonny is gone, it’s unclear who’s running the ship.
Beyond that, Blizzard’s other major undertaking right now is the Diablo series. Diablo 2 Resurrected is literally coming out tomorrow. Diablo Immortal is trying to be an Asian-centric mobile hit. Diablo 4 has still been around for years, but it’s unclear how its development may have been affected by these recent large-scale cleanups.
The general feeling is that this Blizzard of today hasn’t been the beloved Blizzard of years gone by for quite some time now. Although many talented people are still working there, it is now quite clear that the culture of the company, both current and past, has not been good, especially towards women, and perhaps in part. responsible for the bad situation lately. For years, I would say, the brand has felt adrift at sea.
We’re at a point between Blizzard’s declines and departures over the years, recent scandals and investigations, and the state of its biggest future projects makes me wonder what the future holds, or if it. there is a future at all. It’s crazy to think that Blizzard could potentially be shut down or sold, and yet, the way things are going, that doesn’t seem impossible either.
What’s going on right now is unlikely to have the potential to sink Activision Blizzard King as a whole. Activision continues to have endless success with Call of Duty and King has never had a problem making money on mobile. The fate of Bobby Kotick himself may be up for debate, as he presided over it all, but the company as a whole seems likely to weather the current storm, whether deserved or not. But intact? That’s the question, and if there’s anything falling apart as a result of this, it looks like it could be Blizzard, with so many allegations focused there, its past struggles, and the questionable state. of many of his future projects.
I don’t expect anything to happen imminently. But if Overwatch 2 launches and fails, or if Diablo 4 is pushed back for a few years, that seems like a bad sign for the future. And that’s on top of all the other new starts they endure, as these surely aren’t the last.
For its part, when asked to comment, Activision Blizzard responded to the most recent developments this week, regarding the SEC investigation, saying it was cooperating and trying to make sweeping changes to its HR department. side. Here is their most recent statement on their current situation in full:
Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) said today that it continues to work with regulators to address and resolve complaints received in the workplace. The Company also provided an update on recent initiatives aimed at achieving its goal of ensuring an inspiring, fair and respectful workplace for all.
Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, said, “We are deeply committed to making Activision Blizzard one of the best and most inclusive places to work, anywhere. There is absolutely no room in our business for discrimination, harassment or unequal treatment of any kind. As we continue to work in good faith with regulators to address and resolve past issues in the workplace, we also continue to move forward with our own initiatives to ensure that we are the best place to work. We remain committed to resolving all workplace issues directly and quickly. “
Kotick also said the company continues to work productively with regulators, including the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the California Department of Fair. Employment and Housing (DFEH) to improve its workplace policies and procedures and ensure compliance.
The Company is actively engaged in ongoing discussions with the EEOC and has cooperated with the EEOC’s investigation into certain employment practices. He also confirmed that he was complying with a recent United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) subpoena issued to the Company and several current and former employees and officers regarding disclosures on employment matters. and related issues. The Company is confident in its previous disclosures and is cooperating with the SEC investigation.
Activision Blizzard made a number of important improvements, including significant staff changes, the departure of a number of employees and the expansion of compliance resources. In addition, the Company has renewed its HR organization and will welcome this week a new Chief People Officer, Julie Hodges, who is joining the Company from The Walt Disney Company. The Company has also expanded its resources in training, performance management and anti-harassment.
The company remains committed to making sure it is the most welcoming and inclusive gaming company and to connecting and engaging its 400 million players with epic entertainment created by the best people in the business.
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