Sexism allegations: pressure on game developer Activision Blizzard

Status: 11/19/2021 12:00 p.m.

Activision Blizzard, known for games like “Candy Crush”, is under attack over allegations of sexism. The corporate culture is consistently misogynistic, so the allegation. The current co-boss throws in the towel.

By Katharina Wilhelm, ARD Studio Los Angeles

The Californian computer game manufacturer Activision Blizzard is under pressure. The reasons are allegations of sexism against a former employee and a work culture that is hostile to women. Company boss Bobby Kotick is said to have known about it for years but did nothing. The employees protested Tuesday and called for Kotick to resign. A corresponding petition among the employees already has 1,000 signatures.

Catherine Wilhelm
ARD-Studio Los Angeles

Contractual partners distance themselves

Now contractual partners such as Xbox and Sony are also keeping their distance. As reported by the financial service Bloomberg, Xbox boss Phil Spencer expressed concern about the corporate culture of Activision Blizzard in an internal email to Microsoft employees. Sony company boss Jim Ryan is also keeping a distance, it is said. Sony’s Playstation is one of the most important platforms for the company.

In July, the state of California filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for discriminating against and harassing female employees. Employees reported a difficult working environment. In August, the head of Blizzard Entertainment, Allen Brack, was fired. He is said to have touched colleagues without consent and joked about rape.

The “Wall Street Journal” now reported that Kotick had known the relevant internal reports for years – including the allegation of rape. However, he only forwarded some of these reports to the Board of Directors. A company spokesman denied this. The Internet called for a boycott of the games “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush” – both workhorses of Activision Blizzard.

The co-boss is leaving soon

How deep the problems are can also be seen in the efforts to smooth out the image of the game manufacturer. In August, Jennifer Oneal was made co-boss – and thus one of the few female leaders in the game business. However, only a month later she complained that she was paid less than her male counterpart. In a letter to the legal department, she stated that, from her point of view, sustainable change was not possible under the current leadership. At the end of the year, she is leaving Activision Blizzard.

At the end of October, the computer game manufacturer announced that it would invest 250 million US dollars in response to the ongoing criticism to hire more women and non-binary people. Their share is currently around 23 percent. Activision Blizzard plans to increase that number to around 50 percent within five years.

Because of allegations of sexism: Pressure on game developer Activision Blizzard is growing

Katharina Wilhelm, ARD Los Angeles, November 19, 2021 10:51 am

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