Employees at Activision Blizzard staged a walk-out Tuesday following a Wall Street Journal report that CEO Bobby Kotick knew about sexual misconduct claims and didn’t inform its board of directors for years.
In response to the story, several Activision Blizzard employees gathered in front of the campus of Blizzard Entertainment, one of the major studios that make up the Activision Blizzard family. The protesting employees issued several demands, including that Kotick steps down as CEO and undergo a review by a worker-appointed third party.
Activision Blizzard Employees Calling for CEO Resignation
This is the second employee walkout the company has seen in the past four months. This past July, a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard by the California Department of Fair Employment Housing alleged sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, and pay inequality in the workplace.
Among other claims, the filing alleged that former Blizzard President J. Allen Brack failed to mitigate harassment at the company despite being personally aware of multiple incidents. Brack resigned in August after a nearly three-year tenure as president.
A Wall Street Journal article published on Tuesday morning said Mr. Kotick had known for years about sexual harassment and assault complaints women had brought against various men at the company. However, Kotick had not taken any action in some cases or informed the board of directors.
Along with the walkout staged on Tuesday, the employees have made a list of demands for the company’s executive leadership. The gaming industry needs fundamental change, and it seems that these employees intend to get it.
“In the past, we haven’t asked for anyone to resign,” says one Blizzard employee involved in the walkout. “We believed in the ability to fix this and have people learn and grow.” But after The Journal’s bombshell report published on Tuesday, the employee says when it comes to Kotick, “there’s the belief that the integrity isn’t there to allow learning and growing.”
What’s Next For Activision Blizzard?
Despite the backlash from employees and media, Activision Blizzard’s board is still confident in Kotick’s ability to lead the company. In a statement on Tuesday, the board had this to say:
The board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention. The goals we have set for ourselves are both critical and ambitious. The board remains confident in Bobby Kotick’s leadership, commitment, and ability to achieve these goals.
What can Activision Blizzard do to make it right?
Until there is a change in leadership or any company changes, there is not much they can do. Shareholders have already expressed their desire for Kotick to resign, BlizzCon has already been canceled for 2022, games have been delayed, and employees are walking out left and right. The change needs to happen.
Activision Blizzard has two of the most-watched, and most played esports games with CoD and Overwatch. The allegations coming out could potentially impact the esports scene for both these games in a massive way.
Activision Blizzard tournaments could be canceled or delayed, which does not bode well for the players or esports betting sites. PlayStation CEO, Jim Ryan, has condemned the companies reaction to the Kotick news. It’s unclear whether the handling of these allegations will affect the relationship between the two in the future, but that does not mean it can’t happen.
With shareholders, employees, media, and other CEOs calling for Kotick’s resignation, a change in leadership could be imminent.