California suing Activision Blizzard over sex discrimination

For what small part it’s worth, Blizzard was for a long time my favorite game company. They’ve fallen a bit in status over recent games, but I still was a pretty good bet to buy most of their games. But now, fuck that, until they clear their house and it goddamned sparkles. The decent human being game designers can go find a decent studio, and the bad ones can eat shit.

Do we know if there was any butt-munching in the Cosby Suite?

And another news article:

Huh. Your people make misogynistic comments to a woman who happens to become COO of a company you want to do business with, and it has consequences. Who knew?!?

It just helps highlight how pervasive and unquestioned the “bro culture” is. They were at a fucking industry conference presumably trying to put their company’s best foot forward. And they probably really did think that their behavior was reflective of Blizzard as a “chill” place to work. “She can’t take a joke? Shit, we don’t want anyone with a stick up her ass working here anyway.”

The one thing that heartens me from the article is that the CEO of her new company and the conference organizers both behaved honorably.

I’m trying to figure out if that image is supposed to contain something offensive. If it does, I’m missing it. Is it that his rank is field marshal, which brings up memories of the Nazis? His name sounds like it could be vaguely North African or Middle Eastern, but I don’t see what that would in and of itself. be offensive. He doesn’t look like a stereotype of any ethnic. or religious group. If anything, he vaguely reminds of Shredder from the TMNT cartoons in the 1980s. What am I missing?

Um…

Look at the name of the NPC again.

And that’s just one of numerous references in game to Afrasiabi or the Everquest character he played prior to joining Blizzard. All have apparently been removed from the live game.

That’s on me. I should have looked at that more carefully :sweat_smile:

Cool, I hadn’t seen that when I checked before. I guess they’re not that clueless.

Blizzard President J. Allen Brack is out as of this morning, being replaced by a “leadership team” of Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra.

Blizzard’s HR executive is apparently also no longer with the firm, according to Bloomberg.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-03/blizzard-president-departs-as-game-maker-faces-labor-lawsuit

The state of California amended its lawsuit today to include temporary workers in its investigation. The filings also allege that Activision Blizzard has been actively blocking the investigation, using nondisclosure agreements to keep employees from talking to investigators and (allegedly) shredding HR documents relevant to the investigation that they are required by law to keep.

A couple of things that the article makes clear are:

  • This isn’t just a Blizzard problem. Although most of the allegations from the original filing involved Blizzard employees, everything involving the investigation now certainly rests with the C Suite at Activision. If they are stonewalling the investigation as alleged, that’s coming from the top.

  • They’ve finally got the pros in charge of their messaging. Their statement on the lawsuit expansion is a masterclass – doesn’t address the allegations at all, says that they are complying with every “proper” request, and then lists all the changes they’ve made to ensure a “welcoming and safe workplace.”

Update: the Feds are now suing as well and the SEC has subpoenaed Bobby Kotick.

If the California lawsuit was a major concern for the company, an SEC investigation is a pants-shitting development for the C-suite. If it’s found that Activision Blizzard deliberately misled investors and failed to make required disclosures, executives could have personal legal culpability – including Kotick, whose signature is on each SEC filing. And apropos of nothing, their Chief Legal Officer has resigned. . .

I’m speaking here as a 25+ year Blizzard fanboy here, who’s played their games dating back to Diablo 1 and Warcraft 1:

Burn it down

I stopped playing WoW in January with the intention of just taking a break and getting back into it. Last time a few guildmates asked me when I was coming back I took a look at the situation at Activision-Blizzard and had to tell them I had no intention of coming back at this point. And over the last few years I’ve started to feel that way about the video game industry as a whole. I don’t like the way they treat their customers and the more I learn about how they treat their employees the less I’m inclined to purchase their games.

Selfishly, I don’t wanna quit computer games. I love them and they’re one of my major ways to de-stress (also: reading, cooking, drinking; it’s the third healthiest). So part of me hopes that they salt the freakin’ earth where Blizzard was, and that game designers hundreds of years from now still speak of Blizzard’s fate in hushed tones, and that everyone else learns their lesson and stops being assholes to employees, so that I don’t have to feel bad about continuing to buy games.

(I don’t really care about how they treat customers; I can stop buying their luxury product if I don’t like them. That’s different from a person and their job).

It’s not like I’ve cut myself off entirely from computer games so I’m hardly in a position to judge. There are many things I purchase in my day-to-day life that I have no idea how the people making it are treated throughout the supply chain. And it could certainly be argued that it doesn’t exactly help workers if you stop buying the games.

I’m one of those customers which is why I care how we’re treated. And, honestly, I started cutting down on my computer game purchases mostly in response to how I felt I was being treated as a customer. Between micro-transactions, extremely buggy games, and requiring me to sign up for accounts just to play the game I just paid for I’ve just gotten sick of the industry. So it’s not like I’m all that noble over here.

The Activision Blizzard (AB) saga became even more of a clusterfuck this week. In short, the California Department for Employment and Housing (DFEH), which filed the initial lawsuit that kicked off the firestorm, objected to a settlement between AB and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on similar issues. The EEOC responded to that by pointing out that the DFEH case had been led by two former EEOC lawyers who were deeply involved in their AB investigation, which is a conflict of interests and potential violation of the California Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct. This could end up doing serious damage to DFEH’s case.

I guess if there’s an entity capable of fucking up this situation as much as Activision, it’s the state of California.