Activision Blizzard heads promise change following reports of widespread abuse

Blizzard's Big Orc Statue
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Activision Blizzard executives are promising to resolve the company's "frat boy" culture of widespread abuse and harassment, according to internal emails sent to employees.

Following this week's horrifying report, Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier obtained an email from Blizzard president J. Allen Brack reportedly sent to employees the night following the news. In it, Brack acknowledges the "extremely troubling" allegations, explaining that he plans to speak to a number of employees to discuss how the company can move forwards.

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That sentiment was echoed by Activision president Rob Kostich, who described the behaviours represented in this week's report as "not reflective of our Activision company values" in similar internal emails acquired by Polygon's Nicole Carpenter.

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"Let me be clear," Kostich writes. "There is zero tolerance for this type on behaviour in our workplace or, frankly, in our society."

Both those emails were confirmed by Activision. That marks something of a change on the publisher's behalf—with the company previously telling PC Gamer that it denied the accusations as "distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard's past", while decrying the DFEH lawsuit as being made in bad faith.

An internal email addressing the reports is to be expected, of course. But while we may even expect a more public statement from Activision Blizzard, it's hard to gauge how firm a commitment this will be to improving the situation at the company. 

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot infamously fronted last year's Ubisoft Forward showcase with a public apology for the company's similarly abusive workplace culture. Despite this, a French game worker's union recently filed suit against the publisher, following claims that there has been no meaningful change since allegations came to light. 

This week's lawsuit was quickly followed by further reporting into Blizzard, suggesting that Warcraft 3: Reforged's botched launch boiled down to gross mismanagement and budget cuts. Given the week the studio is having, it's not surprising that it appears to have pulled the planned surprise launch of a new Overwatch map.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.