Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick Addresses Response To Lawsuit

Activi­sion Bliz­zard CEO Bob­by Kotick has issued a let­ter to employ­ees address­ing the law­suit brought against the com­pa­ny by the state of Cal­i­for­nia. He called the ini­tial response from Activi­sion Bliz­zard “tone deaf,” and has promised changes. It is imper­a­tive that we acknowl­edge all per­spec­tives and expe­ri­ences and respect the feel­ings of those who have been mis­treat­ed in any way,” Kotick­’s let­ter reads. “I am sor­ry that we did not pro­vide the right empa­thy and understanding.”

Activi­sion Bliz­zard’s ini­tial­ly respond­ed to the law­suit by call­ing it “dis­tort­ed, and in many cas­es false,” and was con­demned by staff who saw this response as down­play­ing gen­uine issues with­in the com­pa­ny. Activi­sion’s share price has been dam­aged since the employ­ee walk­out was announced, plung­ing from around $90 a share on July 26th to $82.38 the next day.

Kotick­’s let­ter promis­es five imme­di­ate adjust­ments with­in the com­pa­ny, includ­ing adding more staff and sup­port to its human resources team. “Lis­ten­ing ses­sions” will also be imple­ment­ed, mod­er­at­ed by third par­ties or staff to share ideas for improve­ment. Anoth­er point in the list reit­er­ates that diverse hir­ing prac­tices are manda­to­ry for all open positions–this pol­i­cy was already place ear­ly this year.

The let­ter also states that lead­ers and man­age­ment across the com­pa­ny are being eval­u­at­ed, with any­one found to have “imped­ed the integri­ty of our process­es for eval­u­at­ing claims and impos­ing appro­pri­ate con­se­quences,” will have employ­ment ter­mi­nat­ed. Kotick also said that some “inap­pro­pri­ate” in-game con­tent would also be removed, though he did not spec­i­fy what con­tent or what games would be modified.

The employ­ees who held Wednes­day’s walk­out have a list of their own demands, includ­ing an end to man­datary arbi­tra­tion claus­es, new recruit­ing and hir­ing poli­cies, and mak­ing com­pen­sa­tion for employ­ees public.

In response to Bob­by Kotick­’s state­ment and Activi­sion Bliz­zard’s pre­vi­ous state­ment, orga­niz­ers of the walk­out said the com­pa­ny’s lead­er­ship “fail[ed] to address crit­i­cal ele­ments at the heart of employ­ee concerns.”

In a state­ment shared with Axios, the orga­niz­ers said they were pleased to see that their stance had “con­vinced lead­er­ship to change the tone of their com­mu­ni­ca­tions,” but made it clear their demands were not addressed by Kotick­’s comments.

The employ­ee state­ment con­tin­ues, say­ing they will not “return to silence” nor “be pla­cat­ed by the same process­es.” They also stat­ed that Wednes­day’s walk­out is not a one-time event. To them, it’s just the begin­ning of an ” endur­ing move­ment in favor of bet­ter labor con­di­tions for all employees.”

You can read Bob­by Kotick­’s full let­ter below:

This has been a dif­fi­cult and upset­ting week.

I want to rec­og­nize and thank all those who have come for­ward in the past and in recent days. I so appre­ci­ate your courage. Every voice mat­ters — and we will do a bet­ter job of lis­ten­ing now, and in the future.

Our ini­tial respons­es to the issues we face togeth­er, and to your con­cerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf.

It is imper­a­tive that we acknowl­edge all per­spec­tives and expe­ri­ences and respect the feel­ings of those who have been mis­treat­ed in any way. I am sor­ry that we did not pro­vide the right empa­thy and understanding.

Many of you have told us that active out­reach comes from car­ing so deeply for the Com­pa­ny. That so many peo­ple have reached out and shared thoughts, sug­ges­tions, and high­light­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties for improve­ment is a pow­er­ful reflec­tion of how you care for our com­mu­ni­ties of col­leagues and play­ers – and for each oth­er. Ensur­ing that we have a safe and wel­com­ing work envi­ron­ment is my high­est pri­or­i­ty. The lead­er­ship team has heard you loud and clear.

We are tak­ing swift action to be the com­pas­sion­ate, car­ing com­pa­ny you came to work for and to ensure a safe envi­ron­ment. There is no place any­where at our Com­pa­ny for dis­crim­i­na­tion, harass­ment, or unequal treat­ment of any kind.

We will do every­thing pos­si­ble to make sure that togeth­er, we improve and build the kind of inclu­sive work­place that is essen­tial to fos­ter cre­ativ­i­ty and inspi­ra­tion. I have asked the law firm Wilmer­Hale to con­duct a review of our poli­cies and pro­ce­dures to ensure that we have and main­tain best prac­tices to pro­mote a respect­ful and inclu­sive work­place. This work will begin imme­di­ate­ly. The Wilmer­Hale team will be led by Stephanie Avakian, who is a mem­ber of the man­age­ment team at Wilmer­Hale and was most recent­ly the Direc­tor of the Unit­ed States Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Commission’s Divi­sion of Enforcement.

We encour­age any­one with an expe­ri­ence you believe vio­lates our poli­cies or in any way made you uncom­fort­able in the work­place to use any of our many exist­ing chan­nels for report­ing or to reach out to Stephanie. She and her team at Wilmer­Hale will be avail­able to speak with you on a con­fi­den­tial basis and can be reached at or 202–247-2725. Your out­reach will be kept con­fi­den­tial. Of course, NO retal­i­a­tion will be tolerated.

We are com­mit­ted to long-last­ing change. Effec­tive imme­di­ate­ly, we will be tak­ing the fol­low­ing actions:

  1. Employ­ee Sup­port. We will con­tin­ue to inves­ti­gate each and every claim and will not hes­i­tate to take deci­sive action. To strength­en our capa­bil­i­ties in this area we are adding addi­tion­al senior staff and oth­er resources to both the Com­pli­ance team and the Employ­ee Rela­tions team.
  2. Lis­ten­ing Ses­sions. We know many of you have inspired ideas on how to improve our cul­ture. We will be cre­at­ing safe spaces, mod­er­at­ed by third par­ties, for you to speak out and share areas for improvement.
  3. Per­son­nel Changes. We are imme­di­ate­ly eval­u­at­ing man­agers and lead­ers across the Com­pa­ny. Any­one found to have imped­ed the integri­ty of our process­es for eval­u­at­ing claims and impos­ing appro­pri­ate con­se­quences will be terminated.
  4. Hir­ing Prac­tices. Ear­li­er this year I sent an email requir­ing all hir­ing man­agers to ensure they have diverse can­di­date slates for all open posi­tions. We will be adding com­pli­ance resources to ensure that our hir­ing man­agers are in fact adher­ing to this directive.
  5. In-game Changes. We have heard the input from employ­ee and play­er com­mu­ni­ties that some of our in-game con­tent is inap­pro­pri­ate. We are remov­ing that content.

Your well-being remains my pri­or­i­ty and I will spare no com­pa­ny resource ensur­ing that our com­pa­ny has the most wel­com­ing, com­fort­able, and safe cul­ture possible.

You have my unwa­ver­ing com­mit­ment that we will improve our com­pa­ny togeth­er, and we will be the most inspir­ing, inclu­sive enter­tain­ment com­pa­ny in the world.

I am a Platinum lover and an ex- Cod-aholic. I've been playing games since I was 5 years old and I refuse to quit, despite my mother's attempts to get me to. God of War and its successors are my all time favorite games.

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