As soon as two more Overwatch 2 heroes were announced as queer on May 30, people began wondering what developer Activision Blizzard was preparing to cover up. On May 31, CEO Bobby Kotick said the company “did not have a systemic issue with harassment.” On June 1, a report revealed 29 incidents of harassment in 2022.
The transparency report is part of Activision Blizzard’s bid to win back the faith of shareholders after numerous lawsuits were brought against it alleging, among other things, a “frat boy culture” and rampant harassment towards women. It revealed that out of 114 investigated employee reports of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment, 29 were substantiated. This is an increase of over four times the seven substantiated reports in 2021.
Activision Blizzard Corporate had one substantiated report, Activision Publishing had 15, Blizzard Entertainment had 13, and mobile developer King had zero.
The report states that corrective action for those found to have harassed employees will be meted out “regardless of an employee’s level, status, or role,” yet Kotick remains CEO despite leaving his assistant a voicemail in 2006 where he threatened to have her killed. A message an Activision spokesperson called “hyperbolic.”
15 percent of those found to have harassed, discriminated, or retaliated against employees were given verbal feedback or coaching, and 36 percent were fired. The reasons for firing included four cases of physical assault, four cases of unwanted advances, two cases of non-consensual touching, and one case of retaliation.
This report follows a Variety puff piece where Kotick claimed news of harassment and cultural issues were “mischaracterizations reported in the media.” He also managed to get a jab in at workers trying to unionize, saying, “What we did have was a very aggressive labor movement working hard to try and destabilize the company.”