Following a bombshell Wall Street Journal report that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick allegedly knew, withheld, and even participated in harassment and abusive behavior, the company’s big console partners Sony and Microsoft are semi-privately expressing their distress. Bloomberg is now reporting that Microsoft boss Phil Spencer has now told staff he was “disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions” at Activision Blizzard, and that Microsoft is “evaluating all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and making ongoing proactive adjustments” as a result.
Yesterday, Bloomberg also reported that Sony PlayStation boss Jim Ryan had told employees that the company had expressed “deep concern” with Activision Blizzard, adding that “[we] do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation.”
These private statements from Sony and Microsoft obviously don’t carry anywhere near the same weight as if these companies publicly called out the situation at Activision Blizzard, and it’s not clear if either company is interested in taking any concrete actions yet. Activision Blizzard is one of the most powerful publishers in the video game industry, and both console makers rely on them to provide new big-budget games for their consoles.
That said, Microsoft and Sony also want to be seen as committed to a less toxic video game industry, and Phil Spencer, in particular, has made combating toxicity part of his public brand. “This type of behavior has no place in our industry,” reads part of Spencer’s new memo about Activision Blizzard, according to Bloomberg.
While over 500 Activision Blizzard employees have signed a petition to remove CEO Bobby Kotick from the company, and some shareholders have demanded his resignation, the board of directors has so far signaled they’re confident in his leadership.
[Disclosure: Casey Wasserman is on the board of directors for Activision Blizzard as well as the board of directors of Vox Media, Polygon’s parent company.]
Microsoft didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment; it didn’t reply to The Verge’s request for comment yesterday about whether it had any statement or would take any action towards Activision Blizzard, either.
Source: The Verge