Activision Blizzard fires 20 as part of clean-up effort

Activision Blizzard continues its efforts to clean up the mess of its own making.


The fallout from the summer's biggest gaming story continues, as Activision Blizzard looks to be stepping up its efforts to clean up its corrosive culture from within. The latest chapter in this continuing saga involves the firing of 20 individuals from within the company, as the company remains in the spotlight over widespread harassment and discrimination allegations.

"We call it as we see it," Activision Blizzard chief compliance officer Frances Townsend told the Financial Times. "It doesn't matter what your rank is, what your job is. If you've committed some sort of misconduct or you're a leader who has tolerated a culture that is not consistent with our values, we’re going to take action. The impact on the business is not a consideration."

Townsend declined to name any of the fired individuals, but notes that they include game developers and supervisors. She adds that patterns of misconduct, mainly at off-site gatherings, have led to the dismissals, while she also determined that one-off instances are being looked into, with workplace training recommended for the latter cases. An additional 19 full-time roles for the ethics and compliance team are being staffed as part of the company's efforts to root out any further problem cases.

Meanwhile, the state of California's case against Activision may be coming apart. Axios' Stephen Totilo notes that Activision has asked the courts overseeing its case to pause California's lawsuit, citing potential ethical violations on the part of the plaintiffs. If the courts agree with Activision's motion, the case could be dismissed outright.

At the center of this ongoing story remains Activision Blizzard employees, their demands, and what they have deemed an insufficient response from management. Townsend notes that further changes are coming, though she does not specify what those entail. Employees originally made their demands clear during a late July walkout. Shacknews is endeavoring to reach out to the coalition of employees at #ABetterABK for comment. For now, we continue to signal boost the following charities: Black Girls CODE, FUTURES, Girls Who Code, RAINN, Women in Animation, and Women in Games International.

The Activision Blizzard story continues to unfold on a daily basis. Keep it on Shacknews for the latest updates.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 19, 2021 4:05 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Activision Blizzard fires 20 as part of clean-up effort

    • reply
      October 19, 2021 4:38 PM

      "At the center of this ongoing story remains Activision Blizzard employees, their demands, and what they have deemed an insufficient response from management."

      These cycles are destined to repeat unless they unionize.

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        October 19, 2021 4:45 PM

        In many ways, I agree with you. Unionizing helps a lot for groups with skilled labor and a limited talent pool.

        Unfortunately, games is such a "dream" career for so many people that the talent pool isn't as limited.

        It's harder to get management to the table when they see you as easily replaceable.

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          October 19, 2021 5:32 PM

          The same applies to the film industry. If we hadn't unionized during the brief push of labor militancy in the 1940s then I am certain we would be in the same position they are because of how desirable the career is.

          It is a matter of education (because 80% of any given workforce is both ignorant/ambivalent about the function and benefits of being organized) and the collective will to organize a workplace. Desirability should stop being a factor once those fortunate enough to generate billions in value for their employers see how much they are being exploited.

          Most important is when they realize how little actual say they have in their workplace. Reporting to HR or hoping your manager is nice is useless in the big picture because both are ultimately accountable to corporate. Organization is one of the only ways regular people get to practice actual democracy in this country.

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          October 19, 2021 5:51 PM

          How effective would scabs be in the middle of production? Imagine outsourcing your entire game in the middle of crunch. The real problem is organizing the type of people who go to work in an industry known for horrible pay, toxic work environments, and long periods of crunch.

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