US government starts Activision Blizzard investigation – subpoenas Bobby Kotick

Not only is Activision Blizzard facing a lawsuit for its toxic workplace practices, but the federal government has now got involved too.

Things are getting very serious for Activision Blizzard and allegations of sexual harassment and workplace discrimination, as where previously they were only facing a lawsuit from the state of California they’re now under investigation from the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The SEC’s investigation is entirely separate to the state level lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and has already subpoenaed CEO Bobby Kotick and other top executives, requiring them to attend court and submit documents.

According to The Wall Street Journal, this will include any and all communications between Kotick and his execs regarding the DFEH lawsuit and the minutes of every Activision Blizzard meeting since 2019.

The SEC wants to see how Activision Blizzard handled the allegations, as well as previous and subsequent complaints from staff. How much of the information will be made public is unclear but knowing what happened with the Apple vs. Google lawsuit it’s likely a lot of dirty secrets will be aired, beyond just the workplace issues.

Kotick has already been under fire from staff members, who criticised his initial response to the DFEH’s findings, when the company’s original intention was to fight the lawsuit.

The involvement of three separate agencies makes this the highest profile investigation of a video games company, for any reason, in recent US history and has already had a negative effect on the publisher’s share price.

On top of all that, a second lawsuit has already been filed by employees, regarding Activision’s actions since the DFEH investigation and their alleged attempts to coerce employees into not discussing workplace conditions.

As well as negatively affecting share price it seems likely that the furore will also impact game sales, with Activision already having removed its own name and logo from promotional material for Call Of Duty: Vanguard and the issue partially blamed for lower than expected interest in the ongoing open beta.

However, the first release since the lawsuit will be Diablo 2 Resurrected on September 23, which is especially awkward as it’s a title from Blizzard – who have been more central to allegations than the Activision side of the business.

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