Activision Blizzard, the gaming giant responsible for making Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, and its workplace is back in the headlines.
The company has been grappling with allegations that it has a “frat boy culture”, as well as claims of sexual harassment and discrimination at work.
It is facing lawsuits for its workplace misconduct challenges in the US, and in late October CEO Bobby Kotick committed the company to doing better by its employees and overhauling its workplace practices.
In a letter to employees, Kotick noted that he wanted Activision Blizzard to become “the model workplace in our industry”, and introduced new changes, such as “a new zero-tolerance harassment policy company-wide”.
Kotick also tied his own compensation to Activision Blizzard’s progress in improving its workplace practices.
But now an investigation by the Wall Street Journal has found that Kotick himself was aware for years of the allegations around harassment and rape at his company.
He is also said to have intervened to protect Dan Bunting, the head of studio Treyarch, who had been accused of harassment, despite HR recommending that he should be fired.
Instead, of being fired, Bunting was given counseling, according to the WSJ. He has since left the company following the WSJ investigation.
Activision Blizzard has denied the WSJ’s claims about Kotick. In a statement, the Board of Directors wrote:
“The Activision Blizzard Board remains committed to the goal of making Activision Blizzard the most welcoming and inclusive company in the industry.
“Under Bobby Kotick’s leadership the Company is already implementing industry-leading changes including a zero-tolerance harassment policy, a dedication to achieving significant increases to the percentages of women and non-binary people in our workforce and significant internal and external investments to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent.
“The Board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention.”
However, the gaming giant is now facing a walk out from employees, as well as demands that Kotick is replaced as CEO.
Employee group ABetterABK tweeted:
Under Bobby Kotick's leadership the company has been accused of mistreatment, sexual harassment, rape, and a death threat made by Kotick himself. The board is just as complicit if they let this slide. It's past time for Bobby to step down. #EndAbuseInGaming #ABetterABK pic.twitter.com/4RYepNdDUc
— ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) November 16, 2021