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Report: Kotick would consider leaving Activision Blizzard if he fails to fix culture issues

Kotick said he would potentially step aside if Activision Blizzard can't address its misconduct issues "with speed."

Chris Kerr, News Editor

November 22, 2021

2 Min Read

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has reportedly told senior managers he will consider departing the Call of Duty publisher if he's unable to quickly remedy the company's culture issues.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, which spoke with people familiar with the matter, the long-serving chief exec made those remarks during an executive meeting last week, and implied he would be open to stepping aside if he's unable to help Activision Blizzard address its misconduct issues "with speed."

During the meeting, Kotick was reportedly made aware that some workers wouldn't be satisfied unless he resigned. The CEO is also said to have told execs he is "ashamed" of some incidents that occurred on his watch, and apologized for his handling of the situation.

The story comes around a week after Kotick was accused of harassing "several" women and enabling misconduct in a damning Wall Street Journal report. After those allegations were made public, Activision Blizzard board members backed Kotick as the person best placed to solve the company's cultural issues, while Kotick himself described the Wall Street Journal article as "inaccurate and misleading."

Many Activision Blizzard employees, however, aren't convinced. At the time of writing, over 1700 workers had signed a petition calling for Kotick's removal, representing over 10 percent of the publisher's total workforce. Notable industry figures like Xbox chief Phil Spencer and PlayStation boss Jim Ryan have also expressed concern at how the crisis is being handled.

"We, the undersigned, no longer have confidence in the leadership of Bobby Kotick as the CEO of Activision Blizzard. The information that has come to light about his behaviors and practices in the running of our companies runs counter to the culture and integrity we require of our leadership--and directly conflicts with the initiatives started by our peers," reads the employee-led petition.

"We ask that Bobby Kotick remove himself as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and that shareholders be allowed to select the new CEO without the input of Bobby, who we are aware owns a substantial portion of the voting rights of the shareholders."

A group of workers based near Activision Blizzard's Irvine HQ also staged an impromptu walkout last week, expressing anger at leaders like Kotick and questioning how the company can make meaningful progress when it refuses to hold its most high-profile figures to account.

Activision Blizzard is currently being sued and investigated for workplace misconduct by regulators including the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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