Bobby Kotick is still the CEO of Activision Blizzard, despite a Wall Street Journal report that detailed Kotick’s history of harassment and abusive behavior while also saying he knew about allegations and incidents of abuse within the company for years.
Kotick has reportedly told executives that he may consider stepping down if the company can’t fix its toxic work environment “with speed,” according to the WSJ. Sources close to the situation told the WSJ that Kotick met with Activision Publishing and Blizzard Entertainment leaders last week. His status as CEO was addressed, as executives said some employees won’t “be satisfied” until Kotick hands in his resignation. During the meeting, Kotick allegedly expressed regret for his past behavior and his handling of the harassment that went on during his 30-year reign of the company.
The report also claims that employees attended meetings held by the company’s senior leaders and human resource managers last week and inquired whether Activision Blizzard’s zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment would apply to Kotick. The WSJ also claims that some attendees directly asked if Kotick would step down.
Activision is also weighing a “workplace excellence committee,” according to the WSJ, in response to allegations of a toxic work environment. The committee will supposedly help better Activision Blizzard’s work culture, but the WSJ claims that the company still has no specific plans to investigate Kotick’s behavior.
The gaming giant’s board of directors expressed confidence in Kotick’s leadership last week even after finding out about his allegedly abusive behavior, noting that they are “confident in Bobby Kotick’s leadership, commitment and ability to achieve these goals.” Bloomberg reported that PlayStation boss Jim Ryan told employees, “We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation.” Bloomberg also reported Xbox head Phil Spencer told his teams that Microsoft is “evaluating all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and making ongoing proactive adjustments.”
Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in controversy since July when the state of California sued it for a culture of “constant sexual harassment,” among many other troubling issues. Since then, employees have walked out twice, and more than 1,500 employees signed a petition to remove Kotick. Numerous key figures, including former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, have left the company.
In July, Kotick published a letter explaining that he and the company were “committed to long-lasting change,” though employees later stated that the message failed “ to address critical elements at the heart of employee concerns,” including issues like forced arbitration (which finally ended last month).
More recently, Blizzard co-lead Jen Oneal, who took on the role as the studio’s leadership shifted in the wake of the lawsuit, stepped down after only three months. According to the WSJ report, Oneal was paid less than her male counterpart and wrote in an email to the company’s legal team that she had been “tokenized, marginalized, and discriminated against.” Oneal told employees that Activision Blizzard only offered her equal pay after she had tendered her resignation, IGN reported.