Saturday, November 27, 2021

Bobby Kotick must no longer be tolerated in the gaming business

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Amid recent allegations of sexual misconduct and maltreatment, the Wall Street Journal published a stunning and scathing story outlining Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick’s role. It’s a narrative about a culture of complicit silence and cover-ups, out-of-court settlements, serial failures to report significant incidences to the board, and his threatening to have one of his employees killed on one occasion.

It’s a distressing read, sadly made all the more shocking by the follow-up statement from Activision Blizzard’s board of directors. “Under Bobby Kotick’s leadership,” it reads, “the Company is already implementing industry leading changes including a zero tolerance harassment policy, a dedication to achieving significant increases to the percentages of women and non-binary people in our workforce and significant internal and external investments to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent. The Board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention.”

The answer is horrible, given the gravity of the allegations, Kotick’s role in letting this culture flourish, and Jennifer Oneal’s resignation as co-head of Blizzard after only three months, writing of being “tokenized, marginalized, and discriminated against.” Kotick’s position is now clearly untenable, and Activision Blizzard’s only option is to go forward without him at the helm. The board’s zero tolerance approach, which resulted in the unannounced departure of Treyarch co-head of studio Dan Bunting last night, must now be applied to Kotick as well.

Employees at Activision Blizzard staged a walkout yesterday, demanding that Kotick be dismissed as CEO. We back them up in their actions, and we support colleagues journalists who have asked for Kotick’s resignation. We agree with Activision Blizzard that a zero-tolerance policy is the only way forward – and that Bobby Kotick, who is now irrevocably linked to Activision Blizzard’s culture as a result of this investigation, accept responsibility and stand down. Only then can the terrible situation he has presided over begin to improve.


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