Microsoft is set to purchase Activision Blizzard following 2021 corporate scandal
There’s not a single corporate videogame scandal in modern times as infamous as Activision Blizzard’s.
It all happened on July 20th, when California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against the company that birthed World of Warcraft and many other AAA PC games, Activision Blizzard.
Apparently, Activision Blizzard’s corporate culture is every feminist’s worst nightmare. It’s been called a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women, on top of promoting frat-boy culture among both employees and managers.
The lawsuit described one of the company’s activities being “cube crawls”, where supposedly, male staff would get drunk and crawl their way through the female cubicles behaving inappropriately. Jokes about rape and sexual abuse, especially against women, were even casually thrown around.
Male employees would also delegate their tasks to women so they could play video games without doing their part. Some employees report being harassed, told not to go to HR and even being demoted when they spoke out. The overly sexist undertone was so pervasive that women were constantly passed over for managerial roles and promotions because they could get pregnant.
Unfortunately, all of those horrifying descriptions are the least of the can of worms opened by the lawsuit. One of the accusations in the document revealed an unidentified female Activision employee who committed suicide while on a company trip with an unidentified male manager. She had been intensely sexually harassed, and her intimate pictures were even spread during a company holiday party.
One can only imagine how morbid the corporate environment had to be for the office’s Christmas party main activity to be sharing nudes of a workmate, who at any chance, could be the person working on the desk right beside any of the culprits.
To say the news was distressing for the gaming community at large would be an understatement.
Then-Blizzard President J. Allen Brack claimed ignorance and expressed his desire to help ensure the safety of Blizzard’s employees. However, within the lawsuit, Brack was mentioned by name and said to be aware of the corporate culture, even behaving inappropriately with female employees himself.
Alex Afrasiabi, ex-senior creative director of World of Warcraft, was also named in the lawsuit. He was accused of telling women coworkers to marry him and even attempting to kiss them so many times that his supervisors had to pull him off the unfortunate female employees more than once.
Things were so out of control that Afrasiabi’s suite was called “Cosby Suite”, as a reference to Bill Cosby.
Afrasiabi was fired last summer after an internal investigation.
In retaliation to the accusations, WoW players had an in-game protest prompting developers to remove all content referencing Afrasiabi. And that was just the start of the mess. Later on, Activision Blizzard Vice President Frances Townsend sent an email calling out the allegations in the lawsuit as false, downplaying the severity of the situation.
Though that was concerning in and of itself, it was later revealed that the email was written by current Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. To add insult to injury, Bobby Kotick was name-dropped on Epstein’s Black Book.
Fast forward to the present day, and Activision Blizzard’s employees are performing walkouts as a response to the accusations, with over 100 employees walking out on working hours to have Bobby Kotick fired. Later, 2,000 employees also signed a letter calling out the company on their response.
However, the real boycott extended into the online world. Gamers and streamers, casual and hardcore, have for once united to make a stand against Activision Blizzard’s dreadful corporate culture. This involved refusing to touch their games, including Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm and many more.
But, to massive rejoice to the gaming community, Microsoft is set to purchase Activision Blizzard soon. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the purchase will cost $70 billion. Kotick will remain as CEO until the deal is finalized and will step down following full acquisition.