More than 1,500 Activision Blizzard employees condemn company leadership, call for 'compassion for victims'

An "Activision" sign on the facade of one of the company's office buildings in LA.
(Image credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

More than 1,500 current and former employees of Activision Blizzard have signed a letter condemning the company's response to a lawsuit alleging discrimination, sexual harassment, and "frat boy" culture at the company. "The statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel … are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for," the employee statement reads.

The letter, which according to Kotaku was sent to managers today, was prompted by Activision Blizzard's response to the lawsuit, and in particular an internal memo issued by chief compliance officer Frances Townsend that dismissed the suit. Townsend claimed the lawsuit presented "a distorted and untrue picture of [Activision Blizzard], including factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories—some from more than a decade ago."

"We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry," the employee letter says. "Categorizing the claims that have been made as 'distorted, and in many cases false' creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first."

"Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action—and the troubling official responses that followed—we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a 'truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit,' while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse, is simply unacceptable."

The letter calls for statements from Activision Blizzard executives that "recognize the seriousness of these allegations," and for Townsend to step down from her position as executive sponsor of the ABK [Activision Blizzard King] Employee Women's Network. The employees also want company leadership to work with them on new efforts to ensure that employees, and also members of the community, "have a safe place to speak out" about misconduct.

The number of signatories is continuing to grow and represents a significant portion of Activision Blizzard, which reported approximately 9,500 employees at the end of 2020. Employees have also been pushing back against the company's response on social media, and former Blizzard leaders including Mike Morhaime and Chris Metzen have apologized for failing to protect its employees.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.