Blizzard is sinking FAST.
Even if you’re not an avid gamer, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft” or “Candy Crush.” Those games, which are played by hundreds of millions of people around the world and have in some cases attained the status of cultural phenomena, all belong to one California company helmed by one of America’s longest-serving CEOs.
That company, Activision Blizzard, is now being roiled by a scandal. Over the past several days, accusations of discrimination and harassment at the gaming giant have snowballed into an avalanche of dissent. Amid that dissent, the first high-profile departure from the company was announced Tuesday morning, when Activision Blizzard COO Daniel Alegre told employees that J. Allen Brack, president of the company’s Blizzard Entertainment studio, would be leaving his post.
The unfolding crisis, and the response to it from employees, echoes similar controversies at major tech firms. And the fallout from what happens at Activision Blizzard is likely to have major ripple effects not only across the gaming world but also the tech industry and corporate America at large.
he backlash against (and within) Activision Blizzard began with a lawsuit filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
The lawsuit alleged a “frat boy” work culture where multiple female employees were subjected to gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and unequal pay, and that “the company’s executives and human resources personnel knew of the harassment and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the unlawful conduct, and instead retaliated against women who complained.”