Activision Blizzard staff call for CEO Bobby Kotick to go after damning report

The head of Activision Blizzard is under new pressure to resign after a damning report on his behaviour, as the co-head of Treyarch quits.

Bobby Kotick is probably the only CEO most hardcore gamers have heard of, given his various controversial comments as the head of Activision Blizzard over the years, and that includes his handling of the ongoing controversy over toxic workplace conditions and discrimination.

When the first lawsuit landed he was heavily criticised for wanting to fight it, instead of addressing its allegations, which led him, more recently, to say he’d only work minimum wage until the issues are resolved.

So far, they are not and a new report by The Wall Street Journal alleges that Kotick knew about many specific incidents for years and purposefully did not tell the board of directors.

The Wall Street Journal article lists a number of specific issues of abuse or discrimination that he knew about, based on interviews with staff and internal documents.

These include an allegation of rape made against a senior male supervisor at Sledgehmamer Games, after she was pressured into getting drunk at an office event.

Kotick allegedly reached an out-of-court settlement over the incident, after ‘nothing happened’ with HR, and then failed to tell the Activision Blizzard board of directors.

A second incident of drunken, sexual harassment, involving Sledgehammer employee Eduard Roehrich, reportedly resulted in just two weeks of paid leave and a change of position, as HR asked him to keep the incident ‘confidential’.

Kotick himself was involved in one incident in 2006, in which he left a voice mail with one of his assistants threatening to have her killed, which he apologised for as ‘hyperbolic and inappropriate’ before settling out of court.

The article also alleges that Kotick stepped in to prevent Treyarch co-head Dan Bunting from being fired, following sexual harassment allegation in 2019. Bunting chose to leave the company this week, after The Wall Street Journal asked him to comment for their article.

Activision initially described the article as ‘inaccurate and misleading’ before retracting the comment and merely describing it as a ‘misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO’.

The article is so damning against Kotick in particular that the Activision board of directors has been moved to issue a statement defending him and claiming that the Board ‘remains confident in Bobby Kotick’s leadership, commitment and ability’.

In response, employee group A Better ABK [Activision Blizzard King] has organised a new walkout and called for Kotick’s resignation.

The news comes as new release Call Of Duty: Vanguard suffered the slowest launch sales of any entry in the series for 14 years, which has been partially blamed on consumer awareness of the workplace allegations.

We have instituted our own Zero Tolerance Policy. We will not be silenced until Bobby Kotick has been replaced as CEO, and continue to hold our original demand for Third-Party review by an employee-chosen source. We are staging a Walkout today. We welcome you to join us.

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