Activision Blizzard finds itself in the news once again for bad reasons, this time due to allegations of Chief Executive Bobby Kotick’s willingness to sweep the evidence under the rug.
Activision Blizzard CEO, Bobby Kotick was named specifically in an article by the Wall Street Journal as having known about egregious company behavior by senior executives for over a decade and outlines the use of his own threats against women.
This is the newest development in the ongoing saga of legal trouble Blizzard has faced since the Summer, where news keeps pouring out about the ‘frat boy’ culture the company rolled in. There have been reports of a ‘Cosby suite,’ high profile ‘exits’ from the company, the CEO Kotick regarding some of the complaints ‘inaccurate’ and then backtracking calling the statements ‘tone-deaf’, and sadly the list just goes on and on. Recently, the EEOC filed a lawsuit, which secured $18 million in a settlement from Activision, which was regarded as ‘too low’ by the California regulator in the lawsuit, and is regarded as a proverbial slap in the face to the victims of the misconduct.
Today, Bobby Kotick was detailed as not only knowing about the misconduct, but defending it, and allowing employees to remain aboard the ship after it has happened. The WSJ writes “Dan Bunting, co-head of Activision’s Treyarch studio, was accused by a female employee of sexually harassing her in 2017 after a night of drinking, according to people familiar with the incident,” with “but Mr. Kotick intervened to keep him, these people said. Mr. Bunting, who led Treyarch through the production of several successful Call of Duty games.”
To address the issues at the company, Kotick has said he’s cutting his annual salary to $62,500, and to implement a zero-tolerance policy regarding future harassment issues. An email in 2020 had outlined complaints from 30 female employees regarding harassment, and Kotick was regarded as aware of it. In a more damning instance of the company’s past, Kotick was told to have threatened to kill one of his assistants in a voice mail, in 2006. Although the matter was settled out of court, an Activision spokesperson said “Mr. Kotick quickly apologized 16 years ago for the obviously hyperbolic and inappropriate voice mail, and he deeply regrets the exaggeration and tone in his voice mail to this day.”
Activision has issued a response regarding the article and the statements made by the WSJ, stating “We are disappointed in the Wall StreetJournal’s report, which presents a misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO. Instances of sexual misconduct that were brought to his attention were acted upon. The WSJ ignores important changes underway to make this the industry’s most welcoming and inclusive workplace and it fails to account for the efforts of thousands of employees who work hard every day to live up to their – and our – values.”
As Activision Blizzard continues its damage control, more information regarding these issues will surely follow.