Several top employees of Activision Blizzard resigned or were released by the company in the wake of the DFEH complaint and follow-up investigations. Some were directly implicated in accusations, including former chief technology officer Ben Kilgore and former lead developers for Diablo 4 and World of Warcraft. The company’s president J. Allen Brack, who DFEH claims were known to complain about harassment, also resigned.
“In the past, we have not asked anyone to resign,” said a Blizzard employee involved in the strike. “We believed in the ability to solve this and get people to learn and grow.” But after Journals‘s bomb report released Tuesday, the employee says when it comes to Kotick, “there is a belief that integrity is not there to allow learning and growth.”
The report claims that Kotick has misrepresented its knowledge of the depth and breadth of abuse allegations to both Activision Blizzard’s executives and board members. The board was reportedly blinded by California DFEH’s complaint this summer, despite the department’s investigation going back two years. “Some outgoing employees accused of misconduct were praised on their way out, while their colleagues were asked to remain silent about the cases,” Journal reports.
The report also talks about several allegations involving the CEO himself. Kotick allegedly harassed an assistant in 2006, including saying in a voicemail that he wanted her killed. A spokesman for Kotick says he apologized at the time and regrets his tone. In 2007, a flight attendant sued a private jet he co-owned, Kotick, after she was fired for complaining about the pilot’s alleged sexual harassment. Kotick settled with the companion and paid her $ 200,000, according to Journals. A spokesman for Kotick denied that there was any retaliation.
In a statement, Activision Blizzard denied it WSJ report and said that it presented “a misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO … WSJ ignores important changes underway to make this the industry’s most inviting and inclusive workplace, and it does not take into account the efforts of thousands of employees who work hard every day to live up to their – and our – values. ”
Kotick himself also sent a video message to employees Tuesday, in which he said the report “paints an inaccurate and misleading view of our company, of me personally and my leadership.” He added: “Anyone who doubts my belief in being the most accommodating, inclusive workplace does not really understand how important this is to me.” Kotick added that the company is moving forward with “a new zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior – and zero means zero. Any reprehensible behavior is simply unacceptable.” A spokesman for Activision Blizzard told WIRED that the company had no further comment.
“I do not know that anyone I know in the company actually believes that Bobby Kotick and his Trump-era old man have the best interests of employees at heart,” said a current Blizzard employee who asked to remain anonymous of fear of consequences. (Chief compliance officer Frances Townsend served as President George W. Bush’s Homeland Security adviser, and Chief Executive Officer Brian Bulatao has worked with the Trump administration.)