Hot potatoes: Activision Blizzard and CEO Bobby Kotick have become the target of a kind of staff uprising. Following allegations that Kitty knew about sexual harassment at the company (and even took steps to participate or defend the defendants), more than 1,000 employees signed a petition demanding his resignation. However, the aftermath of this disaster has spread far beyond Activision Blizzard’s headquarters. The company’s business partners, including executives from Xbox and Sony, have expressed concerns about the way things are.
The first executive to complain was PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan. We reported the news yesterday, but as a quick update, Ryan told PS in an internal email that he was “disappointed and frankly overwhelmed” after reading a recent Wall Street Journal report on Kotick and Activision Blizzard.
He also noted that the company did not react to the news. Ryan’s team reached out to Activision “immediately” after publishing the article to express “deep concern” and determine how the entertainment giant would respond to the allegations against him.
Xbox Director Phil Spencer recently shared his thoughts by writing similar internal email to their employees. Bloomberg was able to view a copy of this letter and share several quotes.
At one point, Spencer reportedly wrote that he was “dismayed and deeply troubled by the dire events and actions” at Activision Blizzard, echoing Ryan’s sentiments. However, Spencer took another step in his anger – the Xbox is currently evaluating “every aspect” of its relationship with Activision Blizzard and will be making “ongoing proactive adjustments” as needed.
These are surprisingly powerful words for a senior game manager. Whether Spencer will actually act remains to be seen, but now that he has openly expressed his willingness to do so, Activision is in a quandary.
In theory, Spencer has control over Xbox game distribution and ad deals – disrupting any of these revenue streams would be a huge blow to Activision’s bottom line, so the company has strong incentive to fix it.
We’ll have to wait and see how it might look. This may be due to the resignation of Kitty, or maybe not; time will show.