Earlier this year, I wrote a piece briefly outlining the State of California’s class-action lawsuit against game development studio Activision-Blizzard (AB) and explaining the various reasons behind the lawsuit.
Since that time, a myriad of updates has been released further detailing the extent of the lawsuit brought against AB, as well as its impact on AB’s employees, leadership, and the company as an entity. In order to help readers better understand the lawsuit’s traction, I wanted to offer another brief piece outlining what has occurred since the lawsuit was officially filed against AB in July earlier this year.
July 21st: News breaks that the lawsuit has been filed in the State of California. A spokesperson from Blizzard states the lawsuit contains, “distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past.”
July 22nd: J. Allen Brack, Blizzard’s president, and Activision’s president, Rob Kotsich, email AB staff stating that the behavior outlined in the lawsuit is “completely unacceptable” and the allegations “deeply disturbing,” respectively.
July 26th: Activision holds an “all-hands” staff meeting to address the lawsuit internally. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 AB employees sign an open letter to leadership decrying the company’s response to the lawsuit being filed and the allegations contained within it.
July 28th: Blizzard employees stage a walk-out at the company’s Anaheim, CA headquarters. Other game industry professionals express their solidarity with Blizzard’s employees in their wish to see accountability and transparency as a result of the lawsuit.
August 1st: Blizzard executive Fran Townsend, who had come under fire in July for dismissing the lawsuit’s allegations, posts an article titled “The Problem With Whistleblowing” to her Twitter before later blocking Blizzard employees on her Twitter account.
August 3rd: Blizzard president J. Allen Brack announces his resignation from the studio as its president. He is then replaced by co-leaders Jen O’Neal and Mike Ybarra. Blizzard’s Head of HR, Jesse Meschuk, is also announced to no longer be with Blizzard.
August 11th: Three of Blizzard’s most seasoned leaders — Diablo 4 game director Louis Barriga, World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft, and Lead Level Designer Jesse McCree — announce they are parting ways with the company.
August 26th: After several sponsors for Blizzard’s title Overwatch renounce their partnerships, Blizzard takes an extra step to rename Jesse McCree’s character likeness in Overwatch.
September 14th: The Communication Workers of America, along with several of Blizzard’s employees, file an unfair labor practice lawsuit against the company with the National Relations Labor Board. The suit claims that Blizzard employees were barred from discussing or sharing information regarding “wages, hours, and working conditions,” as well as other lawsuits under threat of retaliation.
September 17th: News breaks that Blizzard’s Chief Legal Officer, Claire Hart, is also departing her position with the company after three years.
September 21st: AB publishes a press release entitled, “Update on Workplace Initiatives” stating its commitment to engaging and assisting with the lawsuit against the company, as well as all entities directly involved.
October 19th: AB files for a stay in the labor practice lawsuit brought against the company a month prior, citing a “conflict of interest” with lawyers representing the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
October 25th: A Los Angeles County Court judge rejects AB’s attempt to dismiss the September lawsuit brought against it by California’s DFEH as well as the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
October 28th: AB’s own longtime CEO, Bobby Kotick, asks the company’s board to lower his compensation to “the lowest [amount] possible” for a California employee, working out to an ending salary of $62,500. He also asks the board to remove all annual and additional bonuses from his salary in a move to position AB’s employees greater leverage when reporting abuse.
And that leaves us here. Because these lawsuits remain ongoing at this point in time, it is still difficult to tell how they will conclude. Be sure to check back here every couple of weeks to check for any additional updates regarding the lawsuits against Activision-Blizzard!