One of the biggest topics as part of Activision Blizzard’s 2018 Q4 Quarter Earnings call was how the company plans to adjust to refocus on boosting revenue after new competition in 2018 effected the company’s overall position in the gaming industry.
As part of that, the company stated that they intend to lay off 8% of their work force, which means 800 people will no longer have a job – even after Activision Blizzard CEO said that 2018’s revenue exceeded their expectations.
The company plans to prioritize game development across all parts of their business, and Call of Duty is also getting new attention within Activision.
During the call, Activision Blizzard Chief Operating Officer, Coddy Johnson, said that they are investing more resources into Call of Duty’s development to better engage players year round with fresh content. In addition, they plan to accelerate the expansion of the franchise to new platforms and geographies, including mobile.
For Call of Duty, Activision management expects additional resources to deliver more frequent content updates and events for the franchise and accelerate its expansion across platforms and geographies.
Johnson also said they plans to increase coordination across the studios to better align Call of Duty titles and releases for a better user experience.
We are also increasing coordination across our Call of Duty studios with unified development leadership and more unified tools and technology to create a more consistent user experience and leverage our development scale and expertise.
Activision’s newly appointed President, Rob Kostich, also spoke briefly on how they plan to re-engage the community with Call of Duty with better resources and more content. Kostich said they have the biggest content release for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 on February 19 with the new operation for the game.
Now in terms of Black Ops 4, it delivered better unit sales than Black Ops 3 in its launch quarter. So what we have is a really strong foundation of players right now and our biggest objective is to driving on going engagement with our community. Now the good news is we have our best in game content coming still. Our next event, on February 19, will be what we believe our biggest and best in game event, and it’s going to have significant updates across all modes. And we’re looking forward to see how that lands and resonates with the community.
What this means for the future of the franchise and how content releases will work has yet to be seen. Activision says that they expect modest results in revenue while they continue to work on this restructuring of the company.
Activision Blizzard employees respond to CEO’s statement: ‘We will not return to silence’
Activision Blizzard employee group responds to CEO Bobby Kotick’s statement, demanding more changes.
Activision Blizzard employee organization group has responded to the email CEO Bobby Kotick sent on July 27 over the allegations surfaced from the California state lawsuit.
Kotick stated that the executive team’s initial response was “tone deaf” and vowed to work together with employees on correcting the mishaps after receiving intense backlash from the company’s employees.
The employee group has responded saying that his response failed “to address critical elements at the heart of employee concerns.”
The statement demands action on the four major points of changes that Activision Blizzard employees want to see, including end of forced arbitration and changes to employee hiring and promotion practices.
It further states that “we will not return to silence; we will not be placated by the same processes that led us to this point.”
The statement from the employee group is below, shared by Axios:
On the evening before our employee walkout, Activision Blizzard leadership released a statement apologizing for their harmful responses to last week’s DFEH lawsuit. While we are pleased to see that our collective voices — including an open letter with thousands of signatures from current employees — have convinced leadership to change the tone of their communications, this response fails to address critical elements at the heart of employee concerns.
Activision Blizzard’s response did not address the following:
The end of forced arbitration for all employees.
Worker participation in oversight of hiring and promotion policies.
The need for greater pay transparency to ensure equality.
Employee selection of a third party to audit HR and other company processes.
Today’s walkout will demonstrate that this is not a one-time event that our leaders can ignore. We will not return to silence; we will not be placated by the same processes that led us to this point.
This is the beginning of an enduring movement in favor of better labor conditions for all employees, especially women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.
We expect a prompt response and a commitment to action from leadership on the points enumerated above, and look forward to maintaining a constructive dialogue on how to build a better Activision Blizzard for all employees.
Today, we stand up for change. Tomorrow and beyond, we will be the change.
Whether Activision Blizzard executives have plans for the above changes remains to be seen. Over 2,600 employees of the company are participating in the Activision Blizzard walkout on July 28, with #ActiBlizzWalkout trending on Twitter.
The movement encourages all employees to not work on July 28 in protest of the company’s executive responses to the lawsuit and allegations.
Activision Blizzard CEO issues new statement on lawsuit, saying initial response was ‘tone deaf’
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick sent out a new email internally to the entire company’s staff on July 27 further addressing the harassment lawsuit which surfaced several issues with the company’s culture.
In this new internal email, Activision Blizzard CEO acknowledges that the company’s initial responses to the situation was “tone deaf.”
“Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf.”
He commits to working with all employees to build a better culture across Activision Blizzard.
His full email is below, shared by Activision Blizzard publicly:
This has been a difficult and upsetting week.
I want to recognize and thank all those who have come forward in the past and in recent days. I so appreciate your courage. Every voice matters – and we will do a better job of listening now, and in the future.
Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf.
It is imperative that we acknowledge all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way. I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding.
Many of you have told us that active outreach comes from caring so deeply for the Company. That so many people have reached out and shared thoughts, suggestions, and highlighted opportunities for improvement is a powerful reflection of how you care for our communities of colleagues and players – and for each other.
Ensuring that we have a safe and welcoming work environment is my highest priority. The leadership team has heard you loud and clear.
We are taking swift action to be the compassionate, caring company you came to work for and to ensure a safe environment. There is no place anywhere at our Company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind.
We will do everything possible to make sure that together, we improve and build the kind of inclusive workplace that is essential to foster creativity and inspiration.
I have asked the law firm WilmerHale to conduct a review of our policies and procedures to ensure that we have and maintain best practices to promote a respectful and inclusive workplace. This work will begin immediately.
The WilmerHale team will be led by Stephanie Avakian, who is a member of the management team at WilmerHale and was most recently the Director of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement.
We encourage anyone with an experience you believe violates our policies or in any way made you uncomfortable in the workplace to use any of our many existing channels for reporting or to reach out to Stephanie. She and her team at WilmerHale will be available to speak with you on a confidential basis and can be reached at [email protected] or 202-247-2725.
Your outreach will be kept confidential. Of course, NO retaliation will be tolerated.
We are committed to long-lasting change.
Effective immediately, we will be taking the following actions:
- Employee Support. We will continue to investigate each and every claim and will not hesitate to take decisive action. To strengthen our capabilities in this area we are adding additional senior staff and other resources to both the Compliance team and the Employee Relations team.
- Listening Sessions. We know many of you have inspired ideas on how to improve our culture. We will be creating safe spaces, moderated by third parties, for you to speak out and share areas for improvement.
- Personnel Changes. We are immediately evaluating managers and leaders across the Company. Anyone found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences will be terminated.
- Hiring Practices. Earlier this year I sent an email requiring all hiring managers to ensure they have diverse candidate slates for all open positions. We will be adding compliance resources to ensure that our hiring managers are in fact adhering to this directive.
- In-game Changes. We have heard the input from employee and player communities that some of our in-game content is inappropriate. We are removing that content.
Your well-being remains my priority and I will spare no company resource ensuring that our company has the most welcoming, comfortable, and safe culture possible.
You have my unwavering commitment that we will improve our company together, and we will be the most inspiring, inclusive entertainment company in the world.
This new message comes hours after employees of the company announced they’d stage a walk out on July 28 in protest of the company’s initial response to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit has caused many employees of the company to protest in anger over how executives have handled the situation so far.
It remains to be seen how or if this new statement from Kotick will change employee’s views as time goes on.
Activision Blizzard’s new statement took 6 days since the initial lawsuit (and statement) were released.
We’ll continue to keep everyone updated as the situation continues to unfold.
Activision Blizzard employees to walk out over executive response to lawsuit
Activison Blizzard employees are staging a walkout, demanding better response from executives over lawsuit.
Activision Blizzard employees will walk out and host a protest in front of Blizzard Entertainment HQ on July 28 in Irvine, CA over the company’s executive response to the harassment lawsuit.
Employees will go to Irvine, CA Blizzard HQ on July 28 from 10AM PT – 2PM PT to protest and strike against the company over their lack of proper response to the lawsuit.
“We believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership,” the organizers said.
The group sent the following statement of intent:
“Given last week’s statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, and the many stories shared by current and former employees of Activision Blizzard since, we believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.
As current Activision Blizzard employees, we are holding a walkout to call on the executive leadership team to work with us on the following demands, in order to improve conditions for employees at the company, especially women, and in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.”
In addition, the group asked all employees of Activision Blizzard to not work on July 28, from 9am PT to 6pm PT in protest of the company’s leadership.
The group of employees who have organized this have also listed their demands from the company’s executives, as shared by IGN:
- An end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, current and future. Arbitration clauses protect abusers and limit the ability of victims to seek restitution.
- The adoption of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and promotion policies designed to improve representation among employees at all levels, agreed upon by employees in a company-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion organization. Current practices have led to women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups that are vulnerable to gender discrimination not being hired fairly for new roles when compared to men.
- Publication of data on relative compensation (including equity grants and profit sharing), promotion rates, and salary ranges for employees of all genders and ethnicities at the company. Current practices have led to aforementioned groups not being paid or promoted fairly.
- Empower a company-wide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion task force to hire a third party to audit ABK’s reporting structure, HR department, and executive staff. It is imperative to identify how current systems have failed to prevent employee harassment, and to propose new solutions to address these issues.
Employees have asked those who cannot attend the protest should do so online with the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout.
Activision Blizzard employees have remained persistent in their demand for better responses from the executive team over the harassment allegations in the lawsuit.
Employees sent a letter, with over 2,000 current and former employees signing it, demanding Activision Blizzard executives issue a proper response and provide a better way to reach a solution.
Activision Blizzard’s only public statement on the lawsuit called the allegations “distorted” which was dismissed by employees. Their statement said the lawsuit from California DFEH “includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past.”
The company’s Chief Compliance Officer, Fran Townsend, sent an internal email which caused further backlash internally. She stated the lawsuit “presented a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories – some from more than a decade ago.”
Activision Blizzard spokesperson has not responded to requests for comments.
The employee organization group have also shared lists of charities to donate to, in order to help those experiencing discrimination in work place.
- Black Girls Code – https://www.blackgirlscode.com
- Futures without Violence – https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org
- Girls Who Code – https://girlswhocode.com
- RAINN – https://www.rainn.org
- Women In Animation – https://womeninanimation.org
- Women in Games International – https://www.getwigi.com
Activision Blizzard’s social media empire has still remained silent, with no posts from Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, and more.
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