Xbox boss Phil Spencer has written to staff saying he is “evaluating all aspects” of Xbox’s relationship with Activision Blizzard in light of a damning Wall Street Journal report claiming Activision CEO Bobby Kotick had known about alleged instances of sexual assault and harassment within his company for years, but had failed to fully act upon them.
In an email seen by Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier – and later confirmed by Microsoft in a statement to IGN – Spencer told Xbox employees he and the gaming leadership team were “disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions” at Activision Blizzard, and that “this type of behaviour has no place in our industry”.
Spencer added that he was “evaluating all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and making ongoing proactive adjustments” in light of the Wall Street Journal’s report.
In response to Spencer’s comments, Activision told IGN, “We respect all feedback from our valued partners and are engaging with them further. 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.”
Spencer’s email follows word of similar criticism from PlayStation boss Jim Ryan, who is reported to have emailed employees yesterday saying he had reached out to Activision in order to “express our deep concern and to ask how they plan to address the claims made in the article”. Ryan added, “We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation.”
Those responses included a statement from Activision Blizzard calling the Wall Street Journal’s report “a misleading view of [the company] and our CEO”, while a separate statement from Activision’s board of directors rallied around Kotick, saying it “remains confident” in the CEO’s “leadership, commitment and ability”.
Condemnation of Bobby Kotick’s alleged inaction and Activision’s subsequent response to the Wall Street Journal report has continued to grow. Around 150 Activision employees staged a walkout on Tuesday at the company’s California campus, and a group of Activision Blizzard shareholders called for Kotick’s resignation in a letter sent to the company’s board of directors the following day.
And now, following an all-hands gathering at the company in which leadership continued to defend Kotick to staff, a growing number of current Activision Blizzard employees and contractors – totalling just over 1,000 at the time of writing – have signed a petition organised by the ABK Workers Alliance calling for the removal of Kotick as CEO.
“We, the undersigned, no longer have confidence in the leadership of Bobby Kotick as the CEO of Activision Blizzard,” the signed statement reads. “The information that has come to light about his behaviours and practices in the running of our companies runs counter to the culture and integrity we require of our leadership – and directly conflicts with the initiatives started by our peers. We ask that Bobby Kotick remove himself as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and that shareholders be allowed to select the new CEO without the input of Bobby, who we are aware owns a substantial portion of the voting rights of the shareholders.”