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Destiny and Call of Duty: can these two franchises peacefully co-exist?

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Yesterday, Bungie announced that their newest game Destiny will be available on September 9th, 2014. Destiny is a first person shooter, but more dynamic and open world based compared to Call of Duty. Destiny was originally slated to be released in Spring 2014, but now with the push back to fall, that makes the game’s launch even closer to Activision’s other mega-franchise: Call of Duty.

It’s expected that the next Call of Duty game will be releasing in November 2014, and once the holiday season comes around, you’ll have two mega Activision games to choose from: Destiny or Call of Duty. Some will only choose one, while other’s will choose both, but is this what Activision intended? Their two biggest franchise are about to go head on for customer’s purchases in Holiday Season of 2014; however, is it possible that these two games can co-exist peacefully? It definitely it possible, and Activision surely thinks so. Activision CEO has already said that he doesn’t have any problems with these two games competing, and that he believes these two franchises can “peacefully” co-exist. But, some have said Destiny will be the ‘Call of Duty killer’, although thus far, no “direct” FPS franchise has been able to actually do anything to Call of Duty (except GTA V, which dethroned ATVI of the biggest entertainment title name).

If Destiny did launch in Spring 2014, the game would’ve gone head to head against Titanfall, EA’s new big shooter franchise. But now, Titanfall is left to launch in March all by itself, leaving zero competition for Respawn to get a head start.

So, what does this mean for Activision? One things for sure, next holiday season, Activision will generate lots of revenues with having two big franchises on the market. With new Call of Duty, new Skylanders game, and now Destiny all expected in Fall, 2014 will turn out to be one of the biggest years for Activision.

What do you think? Can Call of Duty and Destiny co-exist peacefully?

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Activision Blizzard CEO issues new statement on lawsuit, saying initial response was ‘tone deaf’

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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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.

Yours sincerely,

Bobby


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.

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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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