Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard Inc., a game development and interactive-entertainment content publisher, for $68.7 billion. Activision Blizzard makes games including Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, and Hearthstone. Microsoft will get Activision Blizzard's nearly 10,000 employees as part of the deal, which was announced on January 18. Microsoft officials are accelerating the growth in the company's gaming business across mobile, PC, console, and cloud, and say it "will provide building blocks for the metaverse." Microsoft also will get global eSports properties via Major League Gaming as part of the transaction. The $68.7 billion deal makes the Activision Blizzard acquisition the largest in Microsoft's history.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard this week over alleged sexual harassment and discrimination against women. In a memo to staff obtained by Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier, Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack wrote that "the allegations and the hurt of current and former employees are extremely troubling." Brack wrote that everyone should feel safe at Blizzard and that "it is completely unacceptable for anyone in the company to face discrimination or harassment." He noted it requires courage for people to come forward with their stories, and that all claims brought to the company are taken seriously and investigated. "People with different backgrounds, views, and experiences are essential for Blizzard, our teams, and our player community," Brack wrote.
Activision Blizzard had until 6PM ET on January 25th to voluntarily recognize Game Workers Alliance, a group of Raven Software employees that recently gathered the votes to unionize, backed by Communications Workers of America. That deadline passed without recognition from Activision Blizzard, and Raven employees will now move forward with plans to file for a union election through the National Labor Relations Board. "At Activision Blizzard, we deeply respect the rights of all employees to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union," an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said. "We carefully reviewed and considered the CWA initial request last week and tried to find a mutually acceptable solution with the CWA that would have led to an expedited election process. Unfortunately, the parties could not reach an agreement."
Following nearly a week of internal unrest, Activision Blizzard has published a letter from CEO Bobby Kotick addressing the company's original response to the sexual harassment lawsuit brought against it by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) on July 20th. "Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf," Kotick says in the letter addressed to Activision Blizzard employees. "It is imperative that we acknowledge all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way. I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding." Kotick claims Blizzard Activision is taking "swift action" to ensure a safe, respectful and inclusive working environment for women and other minority groups.
Since July, 37 Activision Blizzard employees have been fired or forced out and another 44 have been disciplined as the company attempts to address accusations of harassment and misconduct, a spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal. In October, the company said more than 20 people had departed and at least another 20 had been disciplined. The game publisher was supposed to share a summary of that information publicly before the holidays, according to the report. However, embattled CEO Bobby Kotick is said to have pulled the plug on that over concerns it would make Activision's woes seem even worse. The spokesperson denied "the assertion regarding Mr. Kotick," as well as claims that employees had filed around 700 reports of misconduct and other issues since July, when Activision was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).