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Activision Blizzard sued by California over work place sexual harassment incidents

A lawsuit has been filed by California’s government against Activision Blizzard over ‘frat boy’ work culture.

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The state of California has filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over the company’s alleged toxic workplace culture that was described as a ‘frat boy’ work place.

The state of California filed the lawsuit on July 20, 2021 against Activision Blizzard for what they state is a work place environment that is sexist and discriminates against female employees on numerous occasions, further alleging sexual harassment incidents occurred at Blizzard.

The lawsuit, reported by Bloomberg Law, states Activision Blizzard offices had a “frat boy workplace culture” that included many shocking incidents. The lawsuit alleges that male employees would “drink copious amounts of alcohol as they crawl their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees.”

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing further alleges that Activision Blizzard discriminated against female employees by providing lower salaries, benefits, and contracts that differed from male counter parts. The suit alleges that female employees experienced numerous sexual harassment incidents working at Blizzard offices.

Some female employees who worked on World of Warcraft at Blizzard had to work with male employees who would hit on them or flirt with them during workplace encounters, the suit alleges. Some of these males were supervisors for departments too.

Another section alleges a male employee at Blizzard giving his responsibilities to a female employee to give himself more time to play Call of Duty at work.

One of the more horrifying allegations in the lawsuit states a female employee took her own life while on a company trip with her male supervisor. The lawsuit alleges the female employee experienced extensive sexual harassment at the company.

The lawsuit further alleges that male employees shared sexual explicit content during work parties, including explicit pictures amongst each other.

Many of the incidents referenced occurred at the Blizzard Entertainment division of Activision Blizzard. Blizzard Entertainment is overseen by President J. Allen Barrack, who is referenced in the lawsuit.

The full lawsuit, filed in the state of California court jurisdiction, can be read in its entirety here.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing claims that they attempted to work with Activision Blizzard to address the issues over the last few years, even as recently as this year. But the Department was not pleased by Activision’s responses and believed the company failed to adequately address the situations and inequality at the work place.

Activision Blizzard issued a lengthy comment to multiple outlets about the lawsuit. The company denies serious allegations of the suit, and even goes after California state ‘bureaucrats,’ claiming company’s are leaving California over the state’s government.

Activision Blizzard statement also directly calls out California’s lawsuit for bringing up the suicide of the female employee in the suit, stating its “disgraceful,” but didn’t clarify the incident itself as alleged in the lawsuit.

The statement ends stating that Activision Blizzard “are confident in our ability to demonstrate our practices as an equal opportunity employer that fosters a supportive, diverse, and inclusive workplace for our people.

Activision Blizzard’s full statement is below:

We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind. We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue.

The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived. They were required by law to adequately investigate and to have good faith discussions with us to better understand and to resolve any claims or concerns before going to litigation, but they failed to do so. Instead, they rushed to file an inaccurate complaint, as we will demonstrate in court. We are sickened by the reprehensible conduct of the DFEH to drag into the complaint the tragic suicide of an employee whose passing has no bearing whatsoever on this case and with no regard for her grieving family. While we find this behavior to be disgraceful and unprofessional, it is unfortunately an example of how they have conducted themselves throughout the course of their investigation. It is this type of irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State’s best businesses out of California.

The picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today. Over the past several years and continuing since the initial investigation started, we’ve made significant changes to address company culture and reflect more diversity within our leadership teams. We’ve updated our Code of Conduct to emphasize a strict non-retaliation focus, amplified internal programs and channels for employees to report violations, including the “ASK List” with a confidential integrity hotline, and introduced an Employee Relations team dedicated to investigating employee concerns. We have strengthened our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and combined our Employee Networks at a global level, to provide additional support. Employees must also undergo regular anti-harassment training and have done so for many years.

We put tremendous effort in creating fair and rewarding compensation packages and policies that reflect our culture and business, and we strive to pay all employees fairly for equal or substantially similar work. We take a variety of proactive steps to ensure that pay is driven by non-discriminatory factors. For example, we reward and compensate employees based on their performance, and we conduct extensive anti-discrimination trainings including for those who are part of the compensation process.

We are confident in our ability to demonstrate our practices as an equal opportunity employer that fosters a supportive, diverse, and inclusive workplace for our people, and we are committed to continuing this effort in the years to come. It is a shame that the DFEH did not want to engage with us on what they thought they were seeing in their investigation.”

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CoD publisher Activision Blizzard announce all US QA Testers will become full-time employees

Following backlash and developers walkouts, Activision Blizzard have announced that all US QA staff will become full-time employees.

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Activision Blizzard were set to lay off members of Warzone developer Raven Software’s Quality Assurance team, and developers walked out in protest. Now, Activision Blizzard have confirmed that all US QA Testers across the whole company will become full-time employees with better pay and full benefits.

Back in December 2021, Warzone developers Raven Software received news from Activision Blizzard that there would be significant layoffs, particularly in the Quality Assurance department. This surprise announcement received severe backlash, and the QA Testers staged a walkout in protest, days before Warzone’s major Pacific update.

After months of protests and unionizing, Activision Blizzard informed its staff on April 7, 2022, that all of its 1,100 QA testers will receive a full-time contract, an hourly wage increase, and access to full benefits.

An Activision Blizzard spokesperson announced that they will convert “all US-based temporary and contingent QA team members at Activision Publishing (AP) and Blizzard – nearly 1,100 people in total – to permanent full-time employees starting July 1.”

“Additionally, we are increasing the minimum hourly rate for these team members to $20/hr or more effective April 17,” they continued. “These employees also will be eligible to participate in the company’s bonus plan and will have access to full company benefits.”

They explained that this decision follows the process of “converting temporary and contingent employees, including 500 at AP’s studios, to permanent full-time employees,” which began last year.

In an internal email, Activision Chief Operating Officer Josh Taub explained how their business model has changed to an “always on,” approach, which means they are “further refining how our development teams work together.”

“QA is, and continues to be, critical to our development success. We have amazing QA teams in place that work hard to ensure our players have the best possible gaming experiences – thank you!” he said.

Mike Ybarra, Head of Blizzard, relayed the same message to all of Blizzard’s staff, explaining the remaining US-based QA Testers will be made full-time employees, receive the pay rise, and gain access to increased benefits.

Image Credit: Activision Blizzard

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Activision’s Beenox studio expands to Montreal as Warzone Mobile development ramps up

Activision’s Beenox studio is opening a new location in Montreal as they continue to support the development of Call of Duty titles.

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Beenox studio have aided in the development of Call of Duty mobile projects as well as Warzone content. On March 29, the company announced plans to open a new location in Montreal.

Beenox studio have supported the content releases for several seasons of Call of Duty Warzone in addition to developing new CoD Mobile experiences. It seems they will also be working on Warzone Mobile and as this significant project continues to move forward, Beenox will be supporting from their new office in Montreal, Canada.

Beenox currently operates out of Quebec City, but this expansion to Montreal is the next step in the studio’s continued growth. At this time, Beenox employs over 400 game development professionals and will likely look to add more as their expansion proceeds.

Beenox was established in 2000 and has since been operating out of Quebec City. The company is owned by Activision and as such the two forces collaborate on exciting new Call of Duty projects.

The addition of a Montreal office will be a smooth one for Beenox as they already employ around 50 team members from the city. However, if you have hopes of joining their impressive team of game developers, Beenox have confirmed that they are looking to hire new members as well:

“The team is currently hiring for roles in programming, design and art departments, as well as for the mobile team.” Luckily, candidates aren’t restricted to Montreal inhabitants, “We want our location to attract local and international talent and contribute to the vibrant video game industry in Montreal” said Nour Polloni, Studio Head at Beenox.

Montreal seems like a perfect fit for the studio as the city is known for housing renowned gaming industry giants like Ubisoft, Square Enix, and Bethesda Montreal. Beenox will fit right in with the vibrant game development community in Montreal.

Although the blog post announcing the expansion, does not specifically mention Warzone Mobile, it’s likely that a major focus will shift toward the development of the upcoming game.

Despite being announced on March 10, Warzone Mobile is still very much shrouded in mystery but fans of the franchise are certainly hoping for a late 2022 release date.


For more Call of Duty news, check out how Warzone Mobile leaks hint at a Verdansk return with a twist.

Image Credit: Activision / Beenox

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Will Call of Duty stay on PlayStation after Microsoft’s Activision buyout?

PlayStation fans may have some questions regarding the new Xbox acquisition, including whether Call of Duty will be on the platform.

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After the huge news about Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, PlayStation players are wondering what will happen with future Call of Duty releases.

Since the news broke about Microsoft’s purchase of Activision, the gaming community has gone crazy worldwide. The deal is arguably the biggest acquisition in gaming history and was even worth more than Disney’s purchase of the Star Wars franchise (Lucasfilm).

The deal has a lot of question marks surrounding it at the moment, but for those PlayStation users who are confused as to what it means for Call of Duty on the platform, here’s all the information you need.

The deal involves games under Activision and Activision Blizzard, which subsequently means Xbox will own Call of Duty.

This took the community by surprise when it was announced and naturally, a lot of people had questions.

For example, Call of Duty have had a close relationship with PlayStation for some years now, giving them exclusive/early access to content, so what will happen after the deal goes through?

Will Call of Duty still be on PlayStation?

Xbox’s Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft gaming, confirmed in a statement over on Twitter that Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation following the acquisition. Further, the Xbox CEO also confirmed that they would honor all existing agreements that Sony has with Call of Duty.

On February 9 a Microsoft blog post reaffirmed their commitment to providing PlayStation owners with new Call of Duty titles in the years to come. Microsoft confirmed that they have no intention to undermine opportunities for PlayStation users with Xbox exclusive CoD titles.

Microsoft stated that they will continue to develop Call of Duty games for all platforms beyond the existing agreements in place, “we have committed to Sony that we will also make them available on PlayStation beyond the existing agreement and into the future so that Sony fans can continue to enjoy the games they love.”

For now, the companies will remain independent from each other until 2023.

This means that Call of Duty 2022 will likely retain a lot of the PlayStation exclusivity deals that have been around and PS players won’t have to worry about losing content to Xbox, at least not until these commitments and deals expire.

Once the deal closes and the commitment to existing contracts and agreements like PlayStation’s exclusive Call of Duty content expires, it’s unclear what will happen in terms of exclusive content. However, it is clear that Call of Duty will still be released on PlayStation.

According to Tom Warren, Xbox’s dealings with Bethesda when they purchased the company could be telling of what they will do with Activision. We will likely know much more about exclusivity for other games once the deal has closed, but we could be seeing a lot of Activision games going exclusive.

It wouldn’t have been wise for Microsoft to pull Call of Duty games from PlayStation, as the franchise remains the best-selling game on PlayStation platforms in the U.S. and has been for years, with Vanguard recently topping the charts for 2021.

What can be said, however, is that exclusivity deals may shift from PlayStation to Xbox after the deal is closed. Call of Duty games may even be seen on the Xbox Game Pass on release, but this is all still just speculation.


So, there you have it, Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation platforms but the exclusive content may shift over to Xbox and PC. For more, check out every Warzone weapon ranked.

Image Credits: PlayStation / Xbox / Microsoft / Activision / Retail Tracking Service / The NDP Group

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