Activision-Blizzard workers and industry giants join chorus calling for Bobby Kotick’s resignation

    
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Memory.

People across the gaming industry are adding to the calls for Activision-Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick to resign – or be removed.

As we’ve been covering, earlier this week the Wall Street Journal published an explosive new entry in the ongoing Activision-Blizzard sexual harassment and discrimination scandal, this round including accusations against CEO Bobby Kotick himself. Kotick reportedly threatened to have an assistant killed and withheld multiple incidents and lawsuits at Activision from stockholders; the report also revealed that Jen Oneal has been paid less than her male co-lead during her three-month stint at the top of Blizzard, an injustice the company attempted to rectify only when she announced her resignation. The report has led Activision-Blizzard employees to walk out, calls from A Better ABK’s workers alliance for Kotick to go, and a group of shareholders to call for the removal of Kotick and two other board members.

We also saw Sony Interactive Entertainment President and CEO and PlayStation boss Jim Ryan tell his workers that he was “stunned” at the news, saying his team did “not believe [Activision-Blizzard’s] statements of response properly address the situation.”

Thus far, Kotick has deflected calls for his removal, and the ATVI board of directors issued a statement supporting him. Indeed, yesterday, Activision-Blizzard leadership led an all-hands meeting for workers, telling them essentially that Bobby Kotick’s new “zero-tolerance” policy would not be applied for his past behavior.

But today, we’ve seen renewed calls for Kotick’s ouster. Earlier this morning, over 500 Activision-Blizzard workers signed their names to a petition demanding Kotick’s resignation. For reference, the whole company employs close to 10,000 people. [Update: They’re over 1000 signatures now.]

“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.”

Fans are being encouraged by the alliance to sign a separate petition:

And now, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has joined the melee. According to Bloomberg, Spencer told his staff that Microsoft is “disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions” described in the article and that “this type of behavior has no place in our industry.” Here’s Bloomberg:

“But Spencer went a step further in saying he would take action. Xbox and PlayStation are among the video game industry’s biggest console manufacturers. Activision has a long history with the Xbox. The publisher’s largest franchise, Call of Duty, became successful largely due to Microsoft’s innovative online platform Xbox Live, which allows players to connect for multiplayer matches. Most of Activision’s games are published on Xbox consoles.”

Marketwatch notes that JPMorgan Chase cut its rating for ATVI stock from overweight to neutral specifically because of “uncertainty” over the Kotick situation. The company’s stock has fallen 10% this week and nearly a third over the last six months even as the S&P 500 has risen.

Further reading:

Update
Girls Who Code has dropped its partnership with Activision-Blizzard. “[F]ollowing recent revelations about allegations of assault, harassment, and a toxic work environment throughout the company, we have decided to end our partnership,” the group wrote this evening. “Our priority has and always will be to stand up for women and other underrepresented groups in tech and ensure that they are given the support and stability they need to actively thrive as they pursue a career in computer science. The news about Activision proves that our priorities are fundamentally misaligned. We cannot in good conscience continue to work with a company that is so antithetical to our own values.”
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mike foster

The entire board should be ousted. They have aggressively moved to counter and minimize these stories from the jump and have no intention of holding anyone accountable.

It’s probably going to take someone like Spencer saying they’ll de-certify games if action isn’t taken. But tbh the damage is done—if you work at Blizzard or Activision, does having to take it that far to get what should be an obvious result make you want to stay?

Blizzard has been hemorrhaging talent for years, especially lately because Activision finally succeeded in changing their game model from “when it’s ready” to “ship X day at all costs” (Warcraft 3 Reforged was the first casualty of this shift). This absurd loyalty to Kotick is only going to amp up the brain drain; everyone I know at Activision and Blizzard is actively looking.

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Bruno Brito

Can someone, in this god-forsaken earth, explain to me why is that we allowed a culture where the sole reason for a company to exist is to make a profit, DESPITE everything else?

If Kotick spends 60bi, and makes 70bi in a quarter, he’s considered a good CEO, even if by achieving that, he destroyed the portfolio, screwed the staff, ravaged the quality of the product, blamished the culture of the workplace and ultimately obliterated whatever sustainability their games would have in the long run.

All that for money that i will never see, you will never see, no one will ever see, and not even Kotick will ever touch, or ever use. Money that simply are numbers on a screen that increase daily and have no impact in real life.

I feel like i took crazy pills. We let these scumbags run the world? People which only claim to success is imaginary numbers on a screen.

Shove them all on a rocket and nuke them from orbit.

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Sarah Cushaway

Welcome to late-stage capitalism– the whole world is basically an Oligarchy at this point because the average person is too lazy and too ignorant to organize collectively and take firm action against ending this system.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

Oh yes, because Communisim or handing control to a Union and spending the rest of my life paying dues whether I want to or not is *SO* much better than being ruled by a dictator who looks like a giant orange cheeto wearing a dead muskrat on his head.

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Bruno Brito

What does communism has to do with Late-stage capitalism? Late-stage capitalism is an absolute abomination, and people harping on Communism to avoid debating Capitalism is taxing.

I don’t give a shit about communism. I’m not a communist. But denying that late-stage capitalism is a blight is being naive.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

Because until replicators become a thing, or the whole world switches to a barter system, an economy that isn’t driven by Captialism is likely Communist. They both suck dead mole eyeballs, but one of them is MUCH more easily weaponized by authoritarian governments. *Including* the one we’re likely to get here if the cultists of the walking cheetoh succeed and rigging the next election in the way they’re trying very hard to get away with right now.

So spare me the indignant posturing unless you have a viable alternative to suggest that people should be willing to die for.

Turing fail
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Turing fail

Commies are sooo 20th century… I’ll take Democratic Socialism, please.

Who’s a commie anymore anyway?

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Bruno Brito

I’m aware. Still weird that people simply accepted such haze-like concepts as beacons of success.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

That’s a long conversation worth having. The short of it is that we, the sheep, allowed the wolves to manipulate the system to ensure that they will always be in control of the hen house. We did it because the wolves used their cunning to manipulate us into believing it was for our own benefit that they do so.

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IronSalamander8 .

Good. Getting rid of Kotick isn’t going to cure the rot in ABK’s offices but it’s a start. Although it really stinks how much money this puke already has.

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Bruno Brito

You mean, ActiBlizz. ABK is the activist group, right?

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IronSalamander8 .

I thought ABK meant Actibliz plus that King mobile game portion?

EmberStar
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EmberStar

Not sure, but I thought ABK (Activision-Blizzard King) was the stock exchange initials? And that the workers group was something like “ABK Workers.” Because they wanted to include employees of all three major branches of the company. (And not ABK “entire alphabet” Workers to include all the other wholly owned dev teams because honestly, that starts getting silly really fast. And won’t really matter when ABK Corporation is ignoring the group completely to begin with.)

rafael12104
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rafael12104

Sort of. Let help clear it up as I work for Activision.

IronSalamader and EmberStar are right but it gets a little muddled because the ABK acronym is used for a lot of different things in Corporate.

The comms or chat program company wide is Slack, and using Slack you can setup different groups to cover thousands of different things. The ABK acronym Activision-Blizzard-King is used when creating a group that is used to talk across all of those different groups. So you might see a group called ABK-Annoucements or ABK-Holidays etc.

But here is what is interesting and why your confusion is relevant. Groups have popped using the ABK acronym to organize and vent over the current situation. So, where as these ABK groups were largely ignored before, groups like ABK_Womens_Network are at the top of most frequented. And anything ABK is looked at if there are new messages.

So you might say, ABK is turning into an activist channel.

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Bruno Brito

This is overly complicated and i don’t know how much of it works in benefit of Actiblizz.

Thanks, Raf <3

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KoboldWhite

As always in this country, you’re in trouble only when you anger fellow ultra-rich people.

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Utakata

Re-posting this because it needs to be told:

Named and shamed…

https://kotaku.com/lets-meet-the-board-members-supporting-besieged-activis-1848079283

…and if someone else hasn’t posted this already.

That, and the article also covers a lot that’s been gone over here…

…Eternity’s End, indeed.

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Ray O'Brien

Yes saw that this morning and almost mentioned it here myself. Never knew how shady Mr NoDick taking over Activision was to begin with!

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Jim Bergevin Jr

As the article mentioned, it’s all about the power for these types of people. That’s why Kotick took the pay cut – the money is immaterial next to maintaining control and power in his position.

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Neowolf2

The downgrade was from overweight to neutral, not the other way around.

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Danny Smith

Oh no, somebody think of the blizzard stock, poor bobby!

Oh wait, fuck him. Let it all burn.

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Greaterdivinity

I’m sure both emails were calculated and fully expected to get released, but it’s good either way. The more pressure on Activision, the better. Sure they’ve still got PC and I guess Switch (don’t think they release too many games there) plus mobile, but if their access to the console market is put in jeopardy at all that’ll be the end of Kotick.

Though I fully don’t expect either platform holder to shut Activision out, they’d lose far too much money through software sales and sadly, we know at the end of the day money speaks loudest. Them dropping co-promotion and additional partner support for any Activision-Blizzard title? I think that’s in the cards.

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SmiteDoctor

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blizzardwickerman.jpg
Turing fail
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Turing fail

Burning Bobby would release tons of toxic fumes…

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Obelisk

The man needs to go.

Players hate him.

His staff hate him.

His industry peers, whom he needs for the business to function, are turning on him and may make him a pariah. Also they probably hate him.

The only people standing by him it seems are the Board but he is rapidly becoming an impediment to the functioning of their business.

In regards to the question posed in the image then, probably not but look at it this way, what can be lost by trying? I would be more than happy to test it out.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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Sic semper tyrannis.jpg
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SmiteDoctor

How much do we have to pay on patreon to pull the lever?

EmberStar
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EmberStar

Who cares? Pull the lever, Kronk!

rafael12104
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rafael12104

Love hot the edge grows and lengthens as you move right as well. LOL! Politically it seems consistent. Oh and the Led Zep intro is perfect.