Developers at Activision Blizzard are once again walking out, this time in response to a report published by the Wall Street Journal that features claims that CEO Bobby Kotick knew of sexual misconduct allegations against executives at the company and chose not to take action, nor to intervene on behalf of the accused.
The article is potentially damning for Kotick, with internal documents claiming that he knew of multiple instances of sexual misconduct at the company — including one in which a female employee claimed to have been raped by her male supervisor — and did not inform the company’s board of directors. Since the company began to be scrutinized following a lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing that alleges that sexual abuse and gender discrimination were commonplace at Activision Blizzard, Kotick has claimed ignorance.
Kotick was recently subpoenaed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in an investigation into how Activision Blizzard handled reports of misconduct.
The article has prompted yet another walkout by developers at one of Activision Blizzard’s studios, Activision Blizzard King. “We have instituted our own Zero Tolerance Policy,” reads a tweet from the studio’s workers alliance. “We will not be silenced until Bobby Kotick has been replaced as CEO, and continue to hold our original demand for third-party review by an employee-chosen source. We are staging a Walkout today.” It is not clear if other studios under Activision Blizzard’s umbrella will follow suit.
Activision released a statement from Kotick earlier today, first sent companywide as a video, in which the CEO touted the company’s improvements thus far but said “there is more to do.” The message ended with Kotick saying: “Thank you for your commitment to a culture of respect, your appreciation for the unique talents we each possess, and for maintaining the very best environment for all of us to work. For that, I am truly grateful.”
Despite the accusations made against Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzard’s board of directors, from whom he allegedly withheld information regarding sexual misconduct at the company, has backed the CEO. “Under Bobby Kotick’s leadership, [Activision Blizzard] is already implementing industry-leading changes, including a zero-tolerance harassment policy, a dedication to achieving significant increases to the percentages of women and nonbinary people in our workforce, and significant internal and external investments to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent,” reads a statement from the board. “The board remains confident in Bobby Kotick’s leadership, commitment, and ability to achieve these goals.”