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Phil Spencer says Xbox is "evaluating" its relationship with Activision Blizzard

Spencer's comments follow Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan's e-mail sent to employees yesterday.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

November 18, 2021

2 Min Read
An Activision Blizzard employee holds a sign saying "no confidence in Kotick."

Xbox boss Phil Spencer is telling employees that the company is "evaluating all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and making ongoing proactive adjustments," just two days after an explosive Wall Street Journal report implicated CEO Bobby Kotick and other members of Activision Blizzard leadership of additional misconduct and knowledge of alleged sexual harassment and discrimination  at the company. 

In an e-mail sent to employees reviewed by Bloomberg News, Spencer wrote that company leadership is "disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions" that have been uncovered in the last few days, if not months. 

Spencer's comments follow those made by CEO Jim Ryan, putting Activision leadership on the back foot with both Xbox and PlayStation's administrators. Activision Blizzard has enjoyed strong relationships with both platforms over the last decade, with sales numbers for games like Call of Duty being essential for both platforms. 

It's not clear what action Spencer and Ryan might take at this point, but Ryan apparently went so far as to e-mail his disapproval to Activision Blizzard leadership. 

Kotick and the Activision Blizzard board are now facing pressure both from employees and major CEOs at companies who hold a lot of influence over how the company publishes its games. 

Update: An Activision Blizzard spokesperson provided the following statement to Game Developer in response to our queries about Spencer and Ryan's comments: “We respect all feedback from our valued partners and are engaging with them further. We have detailed important changes we have implemented in recent weeks, and we will continue to do so." 

"We are committed to the work of ensuring our culture and workplace are safe, diverse, and inclusive. We know it will take time, but we will not stop until we have the best workplace for our team.”

Update: A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed Spencer's comments, and provided the following additional statement explaining his stance: “I personally have strong values for a welcoming and inclusive environment for all of our employees at Xbox," he said. 

"This is not a destination but a journey that we will always be on. The leadership at Xbox and Microsoft stand by our teams and support them in building a safer environment for all.”

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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