Opinion — Don’t Give Up On Activision Just Yet

I know that what I’m about to say may seem coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to hold­ing Activi­sion account­able for what has, alleged­ly, been tak­ing place for years. How­ev­er, I think peo­ple should con­sid­er the big­ger pic­ture and not give up on a com­pa­ny that was found­ed 42 years ago.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, there are those out there that want to just shut out Activi­sion entire­ly. While this is an under­stand­able response to hear­ing abhor­rent details about abuse being suf­fered by these employ­ees, it’s not the most appro­pri­ate response. This com­pa­ny has been through dras­tic shifts with­in the indus­try and itself, includ­ing the video game mar­ket crash and the sub­se­quent mas­sive debt they took on short­ly afterwards. 

Either way, this is a lega­cy com­pa­ny that still man­ages to pro­duce con­tent peo­ple enjoy–even if it is a love/hate rela­tion­ship. Would­n’t it be bet­ter to try and pre­serve a func­tion­al time capsule? 

I under­stand why peo­ple are jump­ing on the “don’t buy their games” band­wag­on, but this does­n’t real­ly fix any of the issues. While, yes, Bob­by Kotick is def­i­nite­ly a prob­lem, there are oth­er fac­tors to con­sid­er before declar­ing full on war against this once pres­ti­gious establishment.

First off, Bob­by Kotick should not be the only one to blame. I feel like a lot of fin­gers are being point­ed just at him, when in real­i­ty, there was a trag­ic break­down in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with­in the entire com­pa­ny. Reg­u­lar employ­ees were not being han­dled appro­pri­ate­ly by mid­dle or upper lev­el man­age­ment. Where was the HR depart­ment through­out this fias­co? SO MANY cogs in the sys­tem slipped and just kept slip­ping. Now we’ve come to the point were it’s impos­si­ble to say “Oh, this could have just been a cou­ple of occur­rences han­dled at com­pa­ny lev­el.” Or “Maybe Kotick freak­ing out on his assis­tant could have been a mis­com­mu­ni­cat­ed joke.” 

How­ev­er, those doubt­ful thoughts have already board­ed their ship and set sail. They are long gone, being replaced by unequiv­o­cal guilt for those that did noth­ing. Do I think Kotick needs to resign as CEO? Yes, 100%. He no longer deserves his place at the top, and it’s not even because of the cov­er-up. Com­pa­nies do have the dis­cre­tion to deal with inter­nal mat­ters as they see fit, but when you’re just not lis­ten­ing to your employees…it looks bad. For me, it’s the way he han­dled the ini­tial report being bro­ken to the press. Instead of admit­ting fault, Activi­sion released a half-heart­ed state­ment about the alle­ga­tions; all while claim­ing the reports were paint­ing the sit­u­a­tion in a bad light.

At this point, the employ­ees have already suf­fered enough. Hon­est­ly, I agree with the employ­ee demands, espe­cial­ly the one that would bring a third-par­ty in that would objec­tive­ly look at the com­pa­ny from all angles. Those who are found to be offend­ers should imme­di­ate­ly be fired. The Board of Direc­tors (which Bob­by Kotick is seat­ed on) should all be replaced, along with Kotick as act­ing CEO. These are the high­est mem­bers in Activi­sion, and they failed at the most basic lev­els of lead­er­ship for their employees. 

Right now, Activi­sion employ­ees are ask­ing peo­ple to sign a Change.org peti­tion to remove Bob­by Kotick as CEO from Activi­sion Bliz­zard. They were ask­ing for 35,000 sig­na­tures and have actu­al­ly reached that goal. They are now look­ing to pick up 50,000 sig­na­tures. Raven Soft­ware staff mem­bers recent­ly had a dis­pute with Activi­sion Bliz­zard over the com­pa­ny’s con­tract deal­ings with the QA team. This moti­vat­ed not only the QA team at Raven to walk, but at Bliz­zard to walk­out as well. These mem­bers have start­ed a GoFundMe page, as it’s said that Activi­sion Bliz­zard is not pay­ing the employ­ees that walk­out. They are seek­ing $1 mil­lion, and have gained a lit­tle over $330,000 since it was put up. The ABK Work­ers Alliance has also made the deci­sion to union­ize, in order to have a bet­ter bar­gain­ing chip against Activi­sion Blizzard.

If the staff mem­bers can man­age to union­ize, this could dras­ti­cal­ly tip the scales in the favor of the employ­ees. It would give them the abil­i­ty to push back against Activi­sion Bliz­zard, and they might actu­al­ly be able to get their demands met. Union­iz­ing is an action that should have been tak­en years ago, and not just by the employ­ees of Activi­sion Blizzard.

Anoth­er aspect every­one needs to remem­ber is that, the State of Cal­i­for­nia, the SEC, and the com­pa­ny’s share hold­ers also want a piece of Activi­sion Bliz­zard. While this does not excuse the behav­ior that fol­lowed the ini­tial release of the mis­con­duct and bias, it seems that Activi­sion Bliz­zard is get­ting stretched out real­ly thin.

Do I believe these employ­ees should have to take these mea­sures to get their point across? No. Should Activi­sion Bliz­zard go through an inter­nal restruc­tur­ing to stop the employ­ee suf­fer­ing? Yes. I’m hon­est­ly hope­ful that changes can actu­al­ly be made, because I don’t want to lose such icon­ic stu­dios in the indus­try. So don’t give up on Activi­sion Bliz­zard just yet.

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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