Activision Blizzard ends, then quickly reinstates employee vaccination requirement

Activision booth at E3 2017
(Image credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Activision Blizzard has reversed its decision to no longer require proof  of vaccination from employees as part of its return-to-office plan. The company had announced its initial plan to employees on Thursday according to tweets from employees and reporting from Jason Schreier for Bloomberg.

Jessica Gonzalez, a founding organizer of the better ABK employee advocacy group, shared the initial email to employees announcing the end of the proof-of-vaccination requirement on Twitter. 

In the email, Activision Blizzard chief administration officer Brian Bulatao attributes the decision to improving COVID numbers and alleged similar moves from other, unnamed businesses. Bulatao concluded by asserting "the benefits of in-person collaboration."

The response from Activision Blizzard employees was swift and largely negative. The situation surrounding Covid-19 remains fluid, with sub-variants and potential outbreaks already threatening the current drop in cases in the United States, leaving a move like this a potential safety hazard to employees as they're encouraged to return to office work. 

A Better ABK was threatening a walkout on Monday, April 4, when Bulatao sent out another email, reversing the decision and leaving vaccination requirements up to individual offices.

It's yet another flareup between Activision Blizzard leadership and its own employees, with the ongoing sexual harassment scandal informing these developments. Additionally, the wider debate behind major companies' return-to-office initiatives looms behind the granular question of proof-of-vaccination. 

The pandemic era saw numerous delays in the games industry and companies in every sector of the economy experienced work-from-home growing pains. However, many workers have appreciated the comfort and work-life balance possibilities that came with the shift, especially as remote management practices have grown more refined.

At the same time, the leaders of many companies are eager to bring back a more traditional work environment, citing questions of efficiency and workplace culture alongside less-emphasized motivations such as long leases on or investment in office space, as well as easier employee surveillance.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.