A Formal Thread about Activision/Blizzard

CriticalGaming

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So I think everyone has heard by now that Activision Blizzard has been sued by the State of California, more specifically the Department for Fair Employement and Housing (DEFH). The lawsuit is by far and away the worst accusations I think we have ever seen towards a gaming company to date. Reading the lawsuit, which i wont directly link here but you can look up on your own if you wish, cites some of the worst behavior I could even conceive of up to and including being the main cause of a suicide.



From the core of the lawsuit, the accusations seem directly related to the World of Warcraft division of Blizzard and have gone on so long that the big "heroes" of Blizzard like Chris Metzhen and Mike Morhaime, were likely still around when this was occuring even if they did not directly take part in this suit. Both those men have made the typical bullshit "we're sorry" statements, but if they knew and let this fester then they are just as guilty as anyone else.

The one person I kind of feel sorry for is Jay Allen Brack, as he was thrust into the president role and likely had a lot of this dumped on his lap. His behavior thus far is of a man trying to somehow deal with this shit, while at the same time saving the company's face because it would likely be fucked up for Blizzard to explode around him the moment he took over. I'm not saying he is innocent in this, but that sudden level of stress can be seen on him, considering when he took the job he had dark hair and as of last in person Blizzcon his hair has gone grey as fuck. Imagine that shit, getting a promotion and within your first few days of office being like, "Welcome mister president of Blizzard, you are now in control of the company. Oh by the way the WoW devs have been abusing and sexually assaulting women on the team for years. Okay have fun!" That can't be an easy thing to handle.

Not that he has done anything to handle it correctly obviously and his inaction or ineffective actions are still a problem. But in trying to understand, I can at least see him trying to fight to keep the ship off the iceberg. Sadly that damage is done.


So right now according to senior game developers on WoW, all production and development of the game has basically stopped. I don't know if any other dev teams are affected by this but it is likely that the gossip has total control over the studio at this point in time and any production that is supposed to be happening is likely not helpful. Many content creators have full-stop bailed on Blizzard entirely, unsubbing from wow, uninstalling games, etc and I am not surprised.

Blizzard games have been drowning in a severe dip in quality and lack of giving a shit for a long time. WoW's been on the decline, Diablo 4 wasn't even planned to be a thing and is likely still 5 years away, Starcraft doesn't have development anymore, Heroes and Hearthstone run off small teams doing updates here and there, and Overwatch is radio silent because they don't have any idea what the fuck to do with the game.

This lawsuit will likely crush Blizzard to the point in which it will get full taken over by Activision and completely overhalled into something else entirely. Blizzard will still exist in name but the entire studio will likely be fully put under Activision's power and control.

Personally, this eliminates any support I'll have for Blizzard going forward. Which is kind of a hard choice to make, because there are hundreds of innocent people at Blizzard just trying to make games, but at the same time what other choice does a customer have? Luckily for me Blizzard isn't making good products anymore so it's fairly easy for me to ignore them for the foreseeable future.

I think anyone they get real evidence on in doing this should face criminal charges, though it should be noted that the lawsuit is not asking for that. Likely those people will just get fired, and the victims will be paid, which to me isn't really justice. Saying sorry you got groped here's some money, doesn't really fly with me and I'd much rather the offenders get prison time and the company get "clean".

Thoughts?
 

hanselthecaretaker

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So I think everyone has heard by now that Activision Blizzard has been sued by the State of California, more specifically the Department for Fair Employement and Housing (DEFH). The lawsuit is by far and away the worst accusations I think we have ever seen towards a gaming company to date. Reading the lawsuit, which i wont directly link here but you can look up on your own if you wish, cites some of the worst behavior I could even conceive of up to and including being the main cause of a suicide.



From the core of the lawsuit, the accusations seem directly related to the World of Warcraft division of Blizzard and have gone on so long that the big "heroes" of Blizzard like Chris Metzhen and Mike Morhaime, were likely still around when this was occuring even if they did not directly take part in this suit. Both those men have made the typical bullshit "we're sorry" statements, but if they knew and let this fester then they are just as guilty as anyone else.

The one person I kind of feel sorry for is Jay Allen Brack, as he was thrust into the president role and likely had a lot of this dumped on his lap. His behavior thus far is of a man trying to somehow deal with this shit, while at the same time saving the company's face because it would likely be fucked up for Blizzard to explode around him the moment he took over. I'm not saying he is innocent in this, but that sudden level of stress can be seen on him, considering when he took the job he had dark hair and as of last in person Blizzcon his hair has gone grey as fuck. Imagine that shit, getting a promotion and within your first few days of office being like, "Welcome mister president of Blizzard, you are now in control of the company. Oh by the way the WoW devs have been abusing and sexually assaulting women on the team for years. Okay have fun!" That can't be an easy thing to handle.

Not that he has done anything to handle it correctly obviously and his inaction or ineffective actions are still a problem. But in trying to understand, I can at least see him trying to fight to keep the ship off the iceberg. Sadly that damage is done.


So right now according to senior game developers on WoW, all production and development of the game has basically stopped. I don't know if any other dev teams are affected by this but it is likely that the gossip has total control over the studio at this point in time and any production that is supposed to be happening is likely not helpful. Many content creators have full-stop bailed on Blizzard entirely, unsubbing from wow, uninstalling games, etc and I am not surprised.

Blizzard games have been drowning in a severe dip in quality and lack of giving a shit for a long time. WoW's been on the decline, Diablo 4 wasn't even planned to be a thing and is likely still 5 years away, Starcraft doesn't have development anymore, Heroes and Hearthstone run off small teams doing updates here and there, and Overwatch is radio silent because they don't have any idea what the fuck to do with the game.

This lawsuit will likely crush Blizzard to the point in which it will get full taken over by Activision and completely overhalled into something else entirely. Blizzard will still exist in name but the entire studio will likely be fully put under Activision's power and control.

Personally, this eliminates any support I'll have for Blizzard going forward. Which is kind of a hard choice to make, because there are hundreds of innocent people at Blizzard just trying to make games, but at the same time what other choice does a customer have? Luckily for me Blizzard isn't making good products anymore so it's fairly easy for me to ignore them for the foreseeable future.

I think anyone they get real evidence on in doing this should face criminal charges, though it should be noted that the lawsuit is not asking for that. Likely those people will just get fired, and the victims will be paid, which to me isn't really justice. Saying sorry you got groped here's some money, doesn't really fly with me and I'd much rather the offenders get prison time and the company get "clean".

Thoughts?

Imagine that karma. The groping they did on the job coming back to haunt them in the form of getting "groped" themselves in the slammer.
 
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Adam Jensen

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So right now according to senior game developers on WoW, all production and development of the game has basically stopped.
Good. Activision should be shut down for this and their IP's sold at an auction. An employee committed suicide for fuck sake and god knows how many more have suffered abuse. There's no saving this company. Shut it down and lock up the people responsible.

Obviously, I know this won't happen. But it should.
 
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CriticalGaming

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Good. Activision should be shut down for this and their IP's sold at an auction. An employee committed suicide for fuck sake and god knows how many more have suffered abuse. There's no saving this company. Shut it down and lock up the people responsible.

Obviously, I know this won't happen. But it should.
i mean the problem with that is that there are probably thousands of innocent people in those offices who would lose their careers if they did that. They don't need a full shut down, they just need chemotherapy to purge the rotten pieces.
 

Casual Shinji

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I'd be surprised if this changed anything. They'll fire some scapegoats and keep on going on the same foot; whatever keeps the gravytrain going. And I do not for a second feel even one ounce of sympathy for Brack. Fuck him. Fuck everyone who was in charge, who obviously knew what was happening and did nothing. Fuck his bullshit non-apology. Even if it was a genuine apology he'd still be a piece of shit for letting this happen, but instead it's the usual 'we'll continue to try and improve our wonderful company blah blah blah'. Fuck you Brack.

The best we can hope for is to wait it out. Wait for these dickheads to die of old age and for younger, less "frat boy" cultured people to hopefully take the reigns.
 
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CriticalGaming

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urprised if this changed anything. They'll fire some scapegoats and keep on going on the same foot; whatever keeps the gravytrain going.
You know, if this was just alegations I would agree. But this is a big lawsuit by a state government agency with over two years of investigative work. I think this hammer will be much harder to deal with than just firing a few fuckwads.
 

Hades

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Funny that between Activision, Ubisoft, and EA - EA are now the least shitty by virtue of being the least rapey.

EA.

Well, that we know of, at least.
EA: ''Hey! We may ruin our games and push gambling on children but at least we don't assault our own workforce!''

I know back in the day there was a ''spouses of EA'' controversy where wives of EA employees brought to light that their husbands were severely overworked and underpaid, but I don't recall any stories of EA executives directly going after their workforce for the fun of it. Even trainwreck development cycles like Anthem where there was a panic room where devs would go to cry only had to deal with incompetent rather than this sort of malice. That does put EA above its peers even if it should have been an easy bar to reach.
 

warmachine

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This mess reminds me of the investment banking industry. They're high pressure, long working hours, toxic masculinity, and has deliberate job insecurity. They pay well to justify this abuse, workers often plan to quit after ten years, and aren't rapey (just misogynist) but video games can't corrupt the rest of the finance sector or risk crashing like a house of cards.
 
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CriticalGaming

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This mess reminds me of the investment banking industry. They're high pressure, long working hours, toxic masculinity, and has deliberate job insecurity. They pay well to justify this abuse, workers often plan to quit after ten years, and aren't rapey (just misogynist) but video games can't corrupt the rest of the finance sector or risk crashing like a house of cards.
Part of my really would be interested in the psychology behind what happens at these big money, high stress, companies. Things like wall street and gaming, in which there always seems to be a breakdown of what's socially okay.

I wonder if it is a case of such stress that the alcohol is used for a sense of relief and unfortunately that leads to bad behavior from people. Or if there is something else that happens from a sociological perspective within these industry groups that has an overflow or breakdown of social norms.

Not that is justifies the behavior, I just wonder why it seems to pop up time and time again in a variety of industries not just gaming. A combination of stress and harsh working demands on top of alcohol abuse maybe?
 

Nick Calandra

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As a note on this, the statement they put from the CCO was beyond bad and we've taken a formal stance to not cover Activision Blizzard products until we hear that this is being taken seriously and things change. There's so many people on Twitter that have come forward, and even the current leads at the studios aren't happy with Activision corporate.

We're not really a traditional games media outlet anymore, so this felt like the right step to take at this time.

 

CriticalGaming

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As a note on this, the statement they put from the CCO was beyond bad and we've taken a formal stance to not cover Activision Blizzard products until we hear that this is being taken seriously and things change. There's so many people on Twitter that have come forward, and even the current leads at the studios aren't happy with Activision corporate.

We're not really a traditional games media outlet anymore, so this felt like the right step to take at this time.
Yeah this is really hard to swallow because while most of the other studios who've had allegations, those studios at least take heed to the warnings and quickly fire people to clean the company as quick as possible. Yet with Blizzard there seems to be an awful lot of, "Nuh uh! we didn't do nothing and nobody can prove shit." Somehow ignoring literally EVERYONE stepping forward going, "Yes you fucking did and here's proof."

I am curious to what you have to say about the differences in big dev studios versus indies because i know you've spoken with many. What do you think it is about these big studios that seems to cause them to get so lost in actually doing any work and keeping a professional environment? In what right mind would any exec sign of on people drinking at the office? In what right mind would any exec or anybody think passing around pussy pics would be okay at the office?

Seriously that is the kind of shit that 20-year-old college idiots get up too. Not 40-something game leads. At least, not something they SHOULD be doing.
 

Casual Shinji

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You know, if this was just alegations I would agree. But this is a big lawsuit by a state government agency with over two years of investigative work. I think this hammer will be much harder to deal with than just firing a few fuckwads.
Then that would be a first in the gaming industry, but I'm really not gonna hold my breath. I would LOVE for the hammer to come down on Activision Blizzard, but something tells me this will go down the same way it went with Ubisoft. I'd so crave to be proven wrong though.
 

CriticalGaming

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Then that would be a first in the gaming industry, but I'm really not gonna hold my breath. I would LOVE for the hammer to come down on Activision Blizzard, but something tells me this will go down the same way it went with Ubisoft. I'd so crave to be proven wrong though.

This happened today to apparently.
 

laggyteabag

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As a note on this, the statement they put from the CCO was beyond bad and we've taken a formal stance to not cover Activision Blizzard products until we hear that this is being taken seriously and things change. There's so many people on Twitter that have come forward, and even the current leads at the studios aren't happy with Activision corporate.

We're not really a traditional games media outlet anymore, so this felt like the right step to take at this time.

God, I hated the statement from the CCO.

It very much reads "All of the stories are wrong. I've never had a problem here. Everything is fine. You should all be grateful"

Dreadful response - especially from someone who has only been with the company since March.

Well done for taking a stance against it.
 
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SilentPony

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I still don't get the whole cubicle crawl thing. How does an office get so toxic and violent that employees can show up drunk, come into the office stumbling slurring drunk, and go up and town the aisle sexually harassing all the female employees, one after the other in open view of everyone, and no one says a thing. Management think boys will be boys, and the women are afraid for their careers. Like that isn't a write up a complaint to Janice is HR and they'll look into it situation, its a call the police and everyone starting recording because the trial will need a lot of evidence situation. Like fuck did someone need to be raped in the breakroom during Carol's birthday party before people started to realize they may be in a dangerous working environment?
Public intoxication is an actual crime that can get you actual prison time, and that's not including drunk driving, sexual assault, harassing, etc...
They're not talking about toxic male culture and poor office management, they're talking about crimes. Criminal activity that people get arrested and put in prison for. Janice in HR can't mitigate criminal activity, and no contract however tight can't force an employee to wave their rights to protection and due process.
 

CriticalGaming

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I still don't get the whole cubicle crawl thing. How does an office get so toxic and violent that employees can show up drunk, come into the office stumbling slurring drunk, and go up and town the aisle sexually harassing all the female employees, one after the other in open view of everyone, and no one says a thing. Management think boys will be boys, and the women are afraid for their careers. Like that isn't a write up a complaint to Janice is HR and they'll look into it situation, its a call the police and everyone starting recording because the trial will need a lot of evidence situation. Like fuck did someone need to be raped in the breakroom during Carol's birthday party before people started to realize they may be in a dangerous working environment?
Public intoxication is an actual crime that can get you actual prison time, and that's not including drunk driving, sexual assault, harassing, etc...
They're not talking about toxic male culture and poor office management, they're talking about crimes. Criminal activity that people get arrested and put in prison for. Janice in HR can't mitigate criminal activity, and no contract however tight can't force an employee to wave their rights to protection and due process.
Yeah that's the fucking question I would like to know.

In what business world is this a common thing. Look i understand a company party, like holiday parties or something, and then during those things get out of hand with a few people (some people can't handle the drink). But the suit implies that this is a regular thing. And if that's true then HOLY SHIT!

However....if the "cube crawl" thing is exaggerated then that's also not very good because by exaggerating you are doing a disservice to the victims of the actual abuse.

Right now the lawsuit is nothing but allegations. There isn't a lot of factual proof as of yet, but I have a feeling based on how many employees are coming forward (over 1000 now) that there will be more shit happening soon.
 
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09philj

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All the big developer-publishers have pretty poor records on the treatment of their employees but Activision-Blizzard and Ubisoft have managed to claw their way to the top of the shit mountain... at least that we know about. I'm particularly impressed with the sheer tone-deaf callousness of Activision-Blizzard's response. It reads like it was written by their legal team with an exclusive view to avoiding admitting any culpability. They'd have been better off saying nothing.
 
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SilentPony

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Jim mentioned in their video, and Jim has always been hyperbolic, that Blizzard employees literally have no protection under the law. People can rape them, kill them, drive them to commit suicide and no one can stop it. And I'm sitting here wondering what's the court and law enforcement got to say about that. Alot of the allegations in the lawsuit aren't examples of "frat culture" or toxic work environments, they're felonies. If the allegations are true, or if they at least have enough evidence, they shouldn't be brining a lawsuit, they should be bringing criminal charges.