Fri. Dec 3rd, 2021

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has written a memo to staff saying he is “evaluating all aspects” of Xbox’s relationship with Activision Blizzard, following new allegations that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick knew about alleged moments of sexual assault and harassment for years. Kotick himself was also accused of similarly wretched behavior.

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In the letter, which was initially reported by Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, Spencer said that he was “disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions” that took place at Activision Blizzard. Spencer went to say that “this type of behavior has no place in our industry,” and that he would be “evaluating all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and making ongoing proactive adjustments.”

In an updated statement made directly to IGN, Spencer said that he has strong values for a “welcoming and inclusive environment” at Xbox, and that the leadership at both Xbox and Microsoft stand by their teams and support them in trying to build a safer environment. Activision did send a response to IGN, saying it recently outlined “important changes” in the recent weeks.

“We respect all feedback from our valued partners and are engaging with them further,” said read the statement. “We have detailed important changes we have implemented in recent weeks, and we will continue to do so. We are committed to the work of ensuring our culture and workplace are safe, diverse, and inclusive. We know it will take time, but we will not stop until we have the best workplace for our team.”

Both the letter and statement come following a recent report by the Wall Street Journal that revealed even more details about sexual harassment at the company, and alleged various cover-ups that occurred and were reportedly overseen by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. This is, of course, been just one part of the turbulent year over at Activision Blizzard that has seen resignations, lawsuits, firing, even more allegations, and multiple game delays. The latter isn’t as important, but, in this context, does suggest a chaotic workplace.

Spencer’s comment comes one day after Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan also reportedly criticized Activision in an internal email, saying he was “disheartened and frankly stunned” when he read the report. He also said that he immediately reached out to “express [their] deep concern and to ask how they plan to address the claims made in the article.” Ryan also said that Sony was “committed to ensuring our community of developers and gamers feel safe and respected, and providing a secure work environment for every employee.” It’s unclear what Sony and Xbox will do in response.

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Since the publishing of the Wall Street Journal story, around 150 Activision employees at the California campus staged a walkout and various Activision Blizzard shareholders called for Kotick’s resignation. Following an all hands on deck gathering at the company that reportedly saw leadership defend Kotick, a growing number of both employees and contractors have signed a petition that calls for the removal of Kotick. As of this writing, the petition has garnered over 1,100 signatures.

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