On the evening of Tuesday, July 27, Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick released a letter to company staff and investors regarding the lawsuit presently facing the company over allegations of a sexist and discriminatory workplace. The letter marks a dramatic change from the company’s previous stance.
Initially, the messaging from high-ranking executives, like Chief Compliance Officer Fran Townsend, was that the allegations were baseless and irrelevant. Kotick’s letter, however, calls these initial responses “tone deaf” and outlines the company’s plan to continue making Activision Blizzard into the “most welcoming, comfortable and safe culture possible.”
Activision Blizzard responds to employee walkout over the lawsuit
This letter comes on the heels of major dissent from Activision Blizzard employees. Over 2,600 current and former employees signed an open letter decrying the statements made by the company and supporting the lawsuit. On Wednesday, July 28, employees plan to hold a walkout protesting the company’s insufficient response and the culture that Activision Blizzard has cultivated. People unaffiliated with the company can support the walkout online by using the hashtag “#ActiBlizzWalkout” on Twitter.
Walkout organizers also released a statement of intent regarding the walkout, listing four core demands. These include the end of forced arbitration for employees, worker participation in oversight of hiring and promotion policies, the need for greater pay transparency to ensure equality, and employee selection of a third party to audit HR and other company processes. Following Kotick’s letter, they released another statement about how the letter was insufficient in addressing these demands.
Kotick’s response also followed a dip in Activision Blizzard stock prices. The company’s shares dropped more than 7% on July 27, potentially prompting Kotick to release the letter via Activision Blizzard’s Investor Relations website. According to Newsfile, the Schall Law Firm, a “national shareholder rights litigation firm,” has launched an investigation into the company on behalf of investors.
The drop in stock prices could also be attributed to the halt in game development. According to World of Warcraft Senior System Designer Jeff Hamilton, “almost no work” is currently being done on the World of Warcraft team. We do not have confirmation on how other game teams are handling the situation, but with the walkout scheduled to happen today, it’s likely that the dip in stock prices will continue for at least another day.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t have all the answers. I can tell you, almost no work is being done on World of Warcraft right now while this obscenity plays out. And that benefits nobody – not the players, not the developers, not the shareholders.
— Jeff Hamilton 💙 (@JeffAHamilton) July 25, 2021