Former Activision-Blizzard staffer likens the company to the Titanic

The doomed ship, not the blockbuster movie about it

    
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Mad fake mode.

Remember a few years ago when one of our quotes of the year was “our mentors are leaving in droves” – one Blizzard worker’s lament for the state of the studio? That was well before the 2021 Activision-Blizzard sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit and scandal broke out, and it’s a sentiment echoed again in a new report from PC Gamer, which has interviewed some of the female employees who’ve departed the company in the past few years, one of whom compared the company to the Titanic – and got off the ship before it started sinking.

The stories from the three interview subjects aren’t anything you haven’t heard before, which is literally why it’s so important to listen. The women describe a culture that was more like a “dysfunctional family” where everyone saw and knew about the ongoing abuses from “rockstar” devs, but human resource reps were drinking with the “biggest offenders” at some of these “work” events – including a swingers party – and did nothing. One woman said she felt so unsafe but so pressured to drink with coworkers that she faked intoxication to get by. Two interviewees also specifically called out Mike Morhaime for being responsible for allowing this unprofessional conduct. And that’s quite literally just the tip of the iceberg, as the women discuss both sexism and racism in hiring and promotions.

“People think Riot is bad?” one of the women says she thought. “We knew the reckoning was coming.”

“Every single person I know is in a better position than they were during their time at Blizzard,” the third interviewee says.

Meanwhile, the Raven QA Activision-Blizzard strike continues, and if you’re curious about the problems QA and contractors face in the industry, one Activision QA has laid it all out on Twitter, noting that contractors are frequently laid off during profitable quarters, exploited into crunch with the carrot of full-time employment, instructed not to interact with full-time workers, and underpaid without benefits. “Temporary employees often get the brunt of crunch in the industry and are made to work incredibly long hours during this time (anywhere from 12-16 hours a day, often 7 days a week with few days off),” the worker writes, noting that it’s not sustainable for the workers – let alone for the games.

Source: PC Gamer, Twitter
Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial company in the MMO and gaming space owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. Last summer, the company was sued by the state of California for fostering a work environment riddled with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which has further compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees strike and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation.
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