Over 20 'exit' gaming giant Activision Blizzard after harassment accusations

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 22 2021 12:43 PM

Employees of the video game company Activision Blizzard hold a walkout and protest rally to denounce the company’s response to a California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit and to call for changes in conditions for women and other marginalized groups, in Irvine, California, on July 28, 2021. David McNew, AFP/File 
Employees of the video game company Activision Blizzard hold a walkout and protest rally to denounce the company’s response to a California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit and to call for changes in conditions for women and other marginalized groups, in Irvine, California, on July 28, 2021. David McNew, AFP/File 

More than 20 employees of "Call of Duty" maker Activision Blizzard have "exited" the gaming giant, the company said in a staff email, following accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination against women.

In August, the California-based video game maker had promised a review of its practices following employee walk outs over management's initial dismissal of a state lawsuit that described a "pervasive frat boy workplace culture."

In an email sent to staff Tuesday, the company's chief compliance officer Fran Townsend said "more than 20 individuals have exited Activision Blizzard and more than 20 individuals faced other types of disciplinary action" over concerns reported both recently and a few years ago. 

The Financial Times reported Tuesday that more than 20 employees had been fired, including game developers and a few supervisors. 

Activision also said it would expand its compliance team as it fields an increasing number of complaints and aims "to build a more accountable workplace and culture."

Reports could be filed anonymously, the company said in the staff email, adding it would "not hesitate to terminate or discipline" anyone found violating its policies. 

Activision's latest shakeup comes amid growing complaints about the treatment of women in the gaming industry in recent years.

According to the ongoing lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, women make up only about 20 percent of Activision's staff and "very few women ever reach top roles at the company."

In addition to reviewing workplace conditions, Activision has pledged to examine its depiction of women in its popular games.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission launched a separate, federal investigation last month into whether the company had properly disclosed harassment and discrimination claims to investors. 

That same month, Activision and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reached an agreement over settling claims, with the company to pay $18 million into a compensation fund.