Bobby Kotick decries ‘aggressive labor movement’ trying to ‘destabilize’ Activision-Blizzard



We’re just a few days from the launch of Diablo IV, so naturally Variety has offered up a mushy interview with… Activision-Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick, topped by a ‘shopped photo of Activision-Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick’s face.

To Variety’s credit, it does include a brief accounting of Activision-Blizzard’s many scandals and lawsuits, including the ones in which Kotick, now the de facto lead villain of the gaming industry, was named personally. Variety also quotes analyst Michael Pachter, who says that while Kotick was a shrewd CEO, he also “presided over a culture that was toxic at times” – a “culture of male domination.” Oof.

Kotick, however, deftly uses the bulk of the interview to attempt to refurbish his reputation, which Variety allows to proceed largely unchecked. Kotick does it not with humility and candor but with denials and finger-pointing as he blames media “mischaracterizations,” “outside forces,” labor groups, regulators, and the state and federal investigators for the company’s woes – just about everyone but himself and his C-suite.

“The executive says he has been both humbled and outraged by what he considers malicious distortions about the company that he has taken to great heights over 32 years. He makes no apologies for Activision or its culture. He says that the company is preparing to release a slew of data drawn from the EEOC investigation that he hopes will combat the perception that Activision was run as a ‘frat house.’ For a company with 17,000 employees worldwide, Kotick asserts, Activision has had a relatively low level of harassment and assault complaints. Though he says he’ll release a transparency report that will provide exculpatory data from outside entities, he acknowledges that the stain left by the sweeping allegations will be hard to combat with pie charts and statistical tables. ‘We’ve had every possible form of investigation done. And we did not have a systemic issue with harassment — ever. We didn’t have any of what were mischaracterizations reported in the media,’ Kotick asserts. ‘But what we did have was a very aggressive labor movement working hard to try and destabilize the company.'”

We’re thinking the labor movement was actually focused on better wages and fair treatment – because that’s what labor organizers have been demonstrating for the last year and a half – but Variety bizarrely characterizes the industry’s rancor for Kotick as unjust, calling him “a favorite punching bag” for “hardcore gamers” (using an 11-year-old quote from The New York times to do it). The suggestion here is that it is Activision’s successes and high profile, not the company’s behavior and Kotick’s own actions (such as threatening to have his assistant murdered, a fact reported by no less than The Wall Street Journal in 2021) that have spurred on gamer rage.

“As Activision has grown, Kotick has become a handy villain, depicted as the rich suit who lives off the money that gamers shell out on their favorite pastime. The slogging on video game-centric social media platform has taken its toll on Kotick, and his family. ‘The hatred has turned into a lot of antisemitism,’ Kotick says. ‘When you look at images of me are on the internet, there are these antisemitic undertones. My kids have gotten death threats.'”

This might have been a fair take a decade ago when The New York Times delivered its saucy pre-GooberGate quote on those mean ol’ video game blogs, but it’s 2023, and we’ve now lived through almost four years of Activision-Blizzard scandals, layoffs, lawsuits, excessive executive pay, and endless unionbusting. Oh, did we not mention that Kotick, who fired hundreds of workers during the company’s best quarter ever and hired a unionbusting law firm to attempt to thwart multiple budding unions inside Activision-Blizzard studios and is literally in the middle of an interview where he attacks labor organizers with baseless conspiracy theories, insists he’s pro-union?

It is obviously important to point out that antisemitism and death threats are never OK, the same way it wasn’t OK for Kotick to go on TV earlier this year and spread xenophobia about Asian gaming companies as part of his campaign to sell Activision-Blizzard to Microsoft and saunter off with millions of dollars in payout. And it’s also important to point out that what Variety is minimizing here as “slogging” from The Gamers is actually valid and important criticism for what is now long-documented corporate misconduct.

“Want to read more articles like this one?” Variety asks at the end of the piece. No. No we do not. I’m done. I’m out. Roll the context box because apparently it’s all being memoryholed.

Source: Variety. Sincere thanks to Lum, who nevertheless sucks for tweeting this where I had to see it and feel obligated to cover it.
Previous articleBlack Desert PC releases the Awakened Woosa today, plans Awakened Maegu for June
Next article‘Knowledge, runes, tentacles’: Elder Scrolls Online previews Necrom’s Arcanist

No posts to display

Subscribe to:
oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments