Activision Blizzard case: some newspapers want to boycott the company's games

Activision Blizzard case: some newspapers want to boycott the company's games

Activision Blizzard case

Some US gaming magazines have decided to boycott Activision Blizzard games by not covering them anymore. The reason is of course the lawsuit filed against the company by the state of California for mistreatment and discrimination of female workers, which you can read more about here.

Many newspapers have already joined the initiative, such as The Gamer, Prima Games, GameXplain, Switch Player, Ninty Fresh, [lock-on] and Cinelinx, which have publicly taken a position on the matter, requesting that Activision Blizzard's top executives do something to improve working conditions in the company.

For example The Gamer's Kirk McKeand tweeted: "We will no longer cover Activision and Blizzard games until we see real changes and the manipulation attempts will not end (the reference is to the message that CCO Fran Townsend sent to the employees ed). We will cover the news on this matter, but not the games. "

Some sites have extended the boycott to Ubisoft as well, according to them that they have not done much to improve things after the accusations received in recent months / years of being a male chauvinist and toxic work environment.

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Activision Blizzard Employees Are Unhappy With The Corporate Response To The Harassment Lawsuit

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 14: General view of atmosphere at the Activision E3 preview held at Staples ... [+] Center on June 14, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Activision)


A rift is widening between many employees at Activision Blizzard and those in charge of the corporation, who have issued a wide range of statements regarding a lawsuit by the state of California alleging mistreatment of women within the company.

There have been a series of these statements, both issued externally and to Activision Blizzard employees themselves. The original statement published alongside the Bloomberg story on the lawsuit spent a large amount of time laying into the conduct of the investigators, whom the company called “state bureaucrats”:

“The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived. They were required by law to adequately investigate and to have good faith discussions with us to better understand and to resolve any claims or concerns before going to litigation, but they failed to do so. Instead, they rushed to file an inaccurate complaint, as we will demonstrate in court.”

That was followed up by internal emails to staff, including one from Blizzard President J. Allen Brack, who is personally named in the lawsuit:

Many point out the weirdness of Brack saying that feminist Gloria Steinem was a “revered saint in the Brack household,” along with other statements that seem to dispute the original pushback on the lawsuit.

After that, Activision CCO Fran Townsend, a former Homeland Security advisor to the Bush administration, issued another statement that very much doubled down on initial defenses of the culture at the company:

While Townsend speaks to her positive experiences as a woman in management, many highlight the fact that she’s only been with the company for seven months.

That last statement reportedly set off a number of employees. A source close to those working at Activision Blizzard relayed the following to me after that last email was sent out:

'Everyone is just crying and angry, especially as leadership keeps trying to minimize them and their feelings and gaslight what they remember.'

Some Activision Blizzard employees are speaking publicly about their displeasure with the company, and there was even a partial work stoppage on the WoW team yesterday:

Others specifically name not just the accusations, but the corporate response as being poor:

Many, many others do not want to speak publicly about the issue for fear of the type of retaliation that Activision Blizzard claims does not exist within the company.

What seems to be happening is that corporate is issuing public statements denying many of these problems exist while simultaneously highlighting things the company does to mitigate these problems. Given that this is not just a complaint, but an actual lawsuit, there’s no doubt some level of “refusing to admit guilt” here that could be used in the case. A true apology would be an admission, and so here we are, with a wide gap between what the executives are saying and what the workers are feeling.

This is an unfurling mess that is only going to get more complicated as time goes on. We’ll see who speaks out next, more employees or another corporate executive.

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