The video game giant was just bought by an even bigger one. Microsoft announced its acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $70 billion. This can restore the publisher’s image.
Activision Blizzard has been going through a turbulent period since July 2021. It was sued by the state of California for sexual harassment and assault, its own employees criticized it internally, and its shareholders accused it of not doing enough to combat discrimination, and the company built up difficulties. Despite the departure of some executives, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotik, accused of participating in the sexual atmosphere within the company, continues to hover over the company.
And what if, in the end, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, announced on January 18, 2022, was an opportunity to clear the slate?
A fresh start for Activision Blizzard
Will the acquisition allow Activision Blizzard to have a fresh start? For now, Microsoft said in a press release that the two groups will continue to run separately, pending the conclusion of banking operations — a move that could take several months. But at the end of this period, Activision Blizzard will report back to me as CEO of Microsoft Gaming ,” identified Phill Spencer in the same press release.
Initially, not much has changed for Activision Blizzard employees, and Bobby Kotcik, who currently retains his position as the group’s CEO. But all of this can change once the transactions are over – which will allow the group to turn the page once and for all.
Employees have been calling for Bobby Kotik’s departure for several months. The leader is accused in particular of concealing some of the employees’ actions from other members of management, when he claimed that he was unaware of harassment problems within the group. The CEO was also going to allow an employee, accused of sexually harassing a co-worker, to remain at the company, contrary to the advice of the human resources department.
Discrimination and harassment in the studios
For Activision Blizzard, the problems began in the summer of 2021. A California investigation in July shed light on working conditions within the company. In particular, it revealed that many female employees are regularly subjected to sexual contact by their male colleagues, and that the complaints they submitted to the Human Resources Department were never to end, because the mentioned men would have been given protection. The studio management had also on numerous occasions refused to promote employees to positions of responsibility.
But the problems did not stop there. Since then, the company has been marked by other sordid revelations, notably the existence of the “Cosby Room,” named after the comedian convicted of sexual assault, in which one of the company’s executives allegedly attempted multiple times to kiss female employees.
Since these discoveries, many heads have rolled. J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard, was the first person to leave after the case exploded. A few days later, it was the turn of Diablo 4 director Luis Barriga, lead designer Jesse McCree, and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan Leecraft to leave the group for good—although the reason for their departure was never specified by the company.
Above all, the company’s responses to the crisis did not succeed in persuading employees who organized a strike, an unusual fact in the United States. All of these accusations and setbacks for the company have only led to the discontent of the employees. Just a few months earlier, in November 2021, Xbox leader Phil Spencer (who would take over as head of Activision Blizzard Studios in a few months’ time), explained that he was deeply shocked. ” I am very upset and upset by the terrible events and actions ,” he explained via email.
He also wrote that ” Re-evaluate all aspects [leur] Partnership with Activision Blizzard “And it will work” Adjustments at this level “.Earlier in January, he said again in an interview with the New York Times that Microsoft” Change the way it works with Activision Blizzard The statements that make more sense immediately, after the acquisition was announced publicly.