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Activision CEO says Infinite Warfare is a ‘high quality game’ but was delivered at the ‘wrong moment’

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In a new lengthy interview with Polygon, prior to Activision’s Call of Duty: WWII reveal, Activision CEO spoke a lot about the decision to take Call of Duty back to its roots.

In that interview, he also talks about Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and what happened this past year with Call of Duty and Infinity Ward. Eric Hirshberg said that he believes Infinite Warfare is a ‘high quality game’ from the Infinity Ward team, but it was the wrong game to deliver in 2016. The company has been working to find the right time to deliver titles, and Infinite Warfare missed that mark.

“I think it’s a really good game,” Hirshberg said about last year’s installment. “I think it can be simultaneously true that it was a really high quality game that Infinity Ward did a really terrific job with and the game was delivered at a very high level, creatively — and that it might have been the wrong game at the wrong moment in terms of getting that rhythm right with the audience and with the culture.”

With the Call of Duty three year development cycle, it’s become more of a challenge to predict the future market and precisely guess what fans want each year. The last three Call of Duty games were all futuristic with advanced movement. But Activision CEO still highlights that the benefits of the 3 year development cycle.

“The advantages of a three-year cycle are clear: there’s more time to innovate, there’s more time to polish, there’s more time to iterate, there’s more time for all the things that gamers care most about development teams having. At the same time, it increases the degree of difficulty, to an extent, getting that balancing act right,” Hirshberg explained, referring to the balance between consistency and freshness, a theme he returned to throughout our call. “The good news is we’ve gotten it right more often than not and more often than most. But I think, in the case of last year, I think both things were true.”

See more about the decision to go back to the roots in our other post here.

SOURCE: Polygon

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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.

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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.

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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Activision Blizzard employees sign letter to company executives over ‘insulting’ statements in response to lawsuit

Over 1,000 employees respond to the company’s executives, asking for better responses and a way to move forward.

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Activision Blizzard employees have signed a letter sent to the company’s executives calling out the executive’s statements in response to the California lawsuit on sexual harassment incidents.

The letter, which has been shared by Bloomberg and Polygon, was signed by over 1,000 current and former employees of Activision Blizzard who drafted the letter over this past weekend.

This employee letter calls out Activision Blizzard’s executives, including Chief Compliance Officer Fran Townsend, over internal and public statements made in response to the lawsuit from California’s Department of Fair Housing and Employment.

Activision Blizzard’s only public statement on the lawsuit diminished the claims in the lawsuit as being “old” and claiming the culture has “changed” internally at Blizzard.

Internally, both Blizzard’s President and Fran Townsend sent emails to the company’s 10,000+ employees. Townsend’s email specifically caused further backlash over her wording disregarding the allegations entirely.

Townsend’s email said, “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” which angered employees internally over a tone deaf response. Townsend joined Activision Blizzard in March 2021 as the company’s Chief Compliance Former. She was a former Homeland Security official during President Bush’s administration.

The employee’s letter takes a firm stance against these responses saying, “we will not be silenced, we will not stand aside, and we will not give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all feel proud to be a part of again.”

Here’s the full letter:

“To the Leaders of Activision Blizzard,

We, the undersigned, agree that the statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for. To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.

We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry. Categorizing the claims that have been made as “distorted, and in many cases false” creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.

Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action — and the troubling official responses that followed — we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a “truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit,” while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse, is simply unacceptable.

We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees — as well as our community — have a safe place to speak out and come forward.

We stand with all our friends, teammates, and colleagues, as well as the members of our dedicated community, who have experienced mistreatment or harassment of any kind. We will not be silenced, we will not stand aside, and we will not give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all feel proud to be a part of again. We will be the change.”


Many employees of Blizzard entertainment have been posting publicly on social media calling out the executives’ of the company over their response. Some have even said that Fran Townsend does “not represent” their views and her internal email was “abhorrent.”

The allegations have taken the community by storm, with several Blizzard Entertainment developers sharing on Twitter their personal reaction to the lawsuit. Several have voiced their disdain for how such a culture was allowed to be fostered.

The lawsuit even trigged responses from Activision Blizzard‘s past executives, including the former CEO of Blizzard Entertainment, Mike Morhaime.

Activision Blizzard has not issued a public statement on the situation since their first on July 21, and the company’s social media empire – across Call of Duty, Overwatch, Warcraft, and more – has been silent since July 21.

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Activision Blizzard execs respond internally to California lawsuit, calling allegations ‘troubling’

Activision Blizzard executives have sent internal emails to staff in response to the recent lawsuit.

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Activision Blizzard executives have sent out internal company wide emails in response to the lawsuit from the California state government over the work culture at Blizzard Entertainment.

J. Allen Brack, the President of Blizzard Entertainment, sent an email to all Blizzard staff Thursday evening stating that the allegations mentioned in the lawsuit were ‘troubling’ and invoked many ’emotions.’

The internal memo from Brack, leaked by Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, calls the allegations “extremely troubling.”

I know many of you would like to receive more clarity. While I can’t comment on the specifics of the case as it’s an open investigation, what I can say is that the behavior detailed in the allegations is completely unavailable.”

The allegations in the lawsuit included describing Blizzard’s workplace culture similar to that of a ‘frat culture’ where male employees would drink alcohol and “crawl” around the office to harass female employees.

The lawsuit also alleged that female employees faced discrimination in terms of pay, benefits, and promotions.

The full internal email is below, as shared by Schreier:

In his email, Brack also says he and the leadership team will be “meeting with many” employees to understand how the company “can move forward.”

Another email was sent internally by Activision Blizzard’s Chief Compliance Officer, Fran Townsend. Ms. Townsend joined Activision Blizzard in March 2021.

She is former Bush administration official in Homeland Security. Her email was worded quite differently, which sparked some backlash from both community and from employees of the company.

In her email, she states that the lawsuit filed “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.”

Schreier reports that many employees are “fuming” over her email. Some spoke out publicly, including many Warcraft devs saying they wouldn’t be working on Friday in response to this email.

Since the lawsuit dropped on July 21, Activision Blizzard’s social media channels have all remained silent, even with several games, like Call of Duty, continuing to see in-game updates.

Activision Blizzard has not issued a new statement publicly about the situation since their initial one that was shared alongside the surfacing of the lawsuit.

We’ll continue to closely follow this story and provide updates on what happens.

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