Activision Blizzard Bobby Kotick

Bobby Kotick, Failing to See That He’s Part of the Problem, Says He’ll Consider Leaving Activision Blizzard if He Can’t Fix Things Quickly

In today's episode of "missing the point entirely"

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A couple of days ago, our Vivian Kane reported a recent walkout from Activision Blizzard employees where they demanded that CEO Bobby Kotick resign. This was in response to a Wall Street Journal report that revealed that Kotick not only knew about the sexual harassment going on within the company, but he helped protect the perpetrators of the harassment and faced his own allegations of misconduct.

This news came after he claimed that he was clueless about the harassment that had been discussed in the lawsuit from back in July.

“In contrast to past company statements, CEO Bobby Kotick was aware of many incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault and gender discrimination at Activision Blizzard, but failed either to ensure that the executives and managers responsible were terminated or to recognize and address the systematic nature of the company’s hostile workplace culture.”

 

What are the allegations against Kotick?

According to PC Gamer, the allegations against Kotick date back to 2006 when he left a threatening voicemail on an assistant’s phone where he said that he would have her killed. The matter was settled out-of-court. Activision spokesperson Helaine Klasky told the Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Kotick quickly apologized 16 years ago for the obviously hyperbolic and inappropriate voice mail, and he deeply regrets the exaggeration and tone in his voice mail to this day.”

The allegations continue throughout his career with examples detailing instances where he intervened to help someone accused of sexual harassment instead of helping the victim.

Another allegation is that Kotick personally intervened in the case of Dan Bunting, then co-head of Activision’s Treyarch studio, a key part of the Call of Duty series. Bunting was accused by a female employee of sexually harassing her in 2017 after a night of drinking. Activision launched an internal investigation in 2019 when this was reported and recommended Bunting be fired but Kotick intervened to keep him. Bunting was instead given counseling and allowed to remain at Activision. However, after the WSJ began enquiring about this incident, Bunting has now left Activision.

That’s just one story. There are others in the PC Gamer report.

Shortly after the Wall Street Journal report about Kotick knowing about the ongoing harassment in the company, Activision Blizzard released a statement where the Board, quote, “remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention.”

I’m not sure if this is the worst hill I’ve seen someone willingly die on or not, but it’s definitely up there.

 

What is Kotick’s response?

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal released a report revealing that Kotick met with executives last Friday. Here, he revealed that he will “consider leaving the company if he can’t quickly fix the culture problems at the videogame giant.”

Mr. Kotick, who has led Activision for three decades, stopped short of saying he would step down in a Friday meeting with executives of the company’s Blizzard Entertainment unit, but left the possibility open if misconduct issues across the company weren’t fixed “with speed,” these people said.

What exactly does “with speed” mean? Because from where I’m sitting, even recent attempts to make things better have failed. Jen Oneal, for example, was promoted to co-head of Blizzard back in August of this year. However, she announced at the beginning of November that she was resigning from the company.

That’s only three months, Bobby.

While it initially sounded like Oneal’s resignation was on good terms (but I doubt anyone believed that), according to Kotaku, the Wall Street Journal revealed that she had been “tokenized, marginalized, and discriminated against.” The report also talks about a party Oneal attended with Kotick back in 2007 “in which ‘scantily clad women danced on stripper poles,’ while a DJ ‘encouraged female attendees to drink more so the men would have a better time.'”

A representative of Kotick says that he didn’t remember attending such a party.

It’s absurd to me that Kotick’s response to all of this is that he will think about resigning if he can’t fix the problem that he had a hand in, but as ridiculous as that logic is, I’m not surprised by it at all. I don’t think anyone else is, either.

Still, what kind of person looks at what’s been going on since the summer and decides that the best course of action is to tease folks about the possibility of him leaving the company?

(Image: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)