Archive for the ‘Activision’ Category

Another Activision Blizzard Executive Leaves Company

September 23, 2021

An internal email leaked to Bloomberg indicates that Chekto Sonny, the Overwatch franchise Executive Producer at Blizzard Entertainment, is leaving the company. Sonny’s departure was announced in an email from Blizzard co-leaders Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra (who replaced Blizzard President J. Allard Brack this summer).
Activision Blizzard confirmed the departure but emphasized that Overwatch 2 is still in development. The Overwatch League Grand Finals will feature the game’s public debut on Sept. 25. Sonny has been with the company for more than five years, working on Overwatch and Overwatch 2.
Claire Hart, Chief Legal Officer and Senior Vice President at Blizzard announced her departure last week. Hart held the position for more than three years.
Activision Blizzard’s Chief People Officer Claudine Naughton resigned earlier this month, but the company announced Tuesday that Julie Hodges will take over the role. Hodges was the head of the human resources department at Disney before joining Activision Blizzard. Earlier this month, Sean Flinn, who spent more than nine years developing Battle.net at Blizzard Entertainment, left the company.
These recent departures from Activision Blizzard may be connected to ongoing investigations and lawsuits related to how the company has handled allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

The State of California Has Charged More People At Activision Blizzard With Sexual Harassment

August 27, 2021

This article contains references to sexual harassment and transphobic behavior.
The state of California has updated its lawsuit against Activision Blizzard to include a broader group of people.
The lawsuit was filed last month when the state of California discovered a “frat boy” working culture within Activision Blizzard. This culture was alleged to have caused discrimination against women at the company, as well as regular harassment and unequal pay for women. Transgender employees at the company claim they are regularly deadnamed at work as well.
Employees and fans staged several walkouts and protests, both virtual and real. Call of Duty Vanguard’s developer, Sledgehammer Games, issued a statement regarding the matter, stating that harassment of any kind goes against everything the studio stands for.
The lawsuit was initially filed by the state of California on behalf of Activision Blizzard employees. The word ‘workers’ has now been added to that language. As a result, temporary workers and contractors may also have been discriminated against at Activision Blizzard.
The state also accuses the publisher of tampering with evidence that could prove crucial in the investigation. The company, according to Axios, has stifled comments on the lawsuit by issuing NDAs that require employees to speak to the company before contacting DFEH [Department of Fair Employment and Housing]. Moreover, the company has ordered its personnel staff to shred critical documents that should have been retained for the investigation of the suit.
Activision Blizzard’s spokesperson denied these allegations. Shredding documents did not destroy information, contrary to claims made by the spokesperson. A relevant piece of information pertinent to the investigation of the DFEH was preserved.
The lawsuit led to a wave of departures at Activision Blizzard. Shortly after the news broke, Blizzard’s president J. Allen Brack resigned from his position. Luis Barriga and Jesse McCree, Diablo 4’s Director and Lead Designer, have also left the company.

Game Bits: Tim Hayden Leaves His Company To Start New Esports Venture, Another Activision Official Leaves Due To Sexual Harassment Scandal

August 24, 2021

Time Hayden Leaves Company To Start New Esports Venture

Co-founder of Stadia Ventures – an accelerator and venture firm focused on sports and esports – Tim Hayden announced that he is working on a new stealth venture in the sports and esports space, to be unveiled soon. Hayden revealed that he will no longer be involved in Stadia Ventures’ day-to-day operations as managing director as he concentrates on his new project.
Stadia Ventures will be led by Alex Chalmers, Brandon Janosky, and Joe Pimmel from now on, but Hayden will remain an investor.

Another Activision Official Resigns

Activision Blizzard Senior VP & Head of Leagues Johanna Faries is no longer overseeing the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League, according to sources. The leagues have been largely managed by Brandon Snow, who was quietly named Head of Activision Blizzard Esports in July.
Faries, who added the title of CDL GM in April, now concentrates almost exclusively on the development of the popular shooter franchise. SBJ sources report that Faries is well-liked and respected in both leagues and her absence has some on edge.
Ownership within the CDL and OWL have noticed a noticeable absence during their monthly meetings with Activision Blizzard brass. According to CDL insiders, Faries, who became the league’s head in October 2019, hasn’t spoken with personnel regarding the league’s business in a while.
During this weekend’s CDL championship in Los Angeles, an Activision rep told SBJ that Faries was unavailable to speak to the media. “Johanna will remain involved with the Call of Duty League since the game and its esports are connected,” said the rep. “The internal structure is designed to create more integration between esports and the franchise.
The leagues have been largely managed by Brandon Snow, who was quietly named Head of Activision Blizzard Esports in July. Activision Blizzard’s esports arm has been described as a place where people care about gaming, and he has been well received.

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American Corporations Are Deciding Whether They Should Boycott Activision Blizzard Or Not

August 8, 2021

Kellogg’s is the first company to announce it is no longer sponsoring an Activision Blizzard esports league.
A lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) alleging that the company has a “frat boy culture” where female employees face gender discrimination and sexual harassment led the company to announce recently that it was withdrawing from the Overwatch League.
Several current and former employees have been speaking to the media about the hazing and sexual harassment that female employees had to endure at Blizzard, including loose locker room banter, gender discrimination, sexual assault, and pay disparities.
In 2019, Kellogg’s and the Overwatch League signed a multi-year partnership deal, which included Cheez-It Grooves and Pringles Wavy. The OWL website removed both brands from the sponsorship page on Friday.
In an announcement to Polygon, the company informed them that it would no longer sponsor the league:
A Kellogg spokesperson, Kris Bahner, told Polygon that the allegations are troubling and contradict the company’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. “Activision Blizzard has announced plans to address the challenges it faces, but we will not launch any new programs this year, but we will keep track of their progress.”
Several companies, including Coca-Cola, State Farm, and T-Mobile, maintain their relationships with Activision Blizzard but have asked the company to temporarily remove its branding from competitions.
Coca-Cola and State Farm withdrew from Activision Blizzard’s esports leagues after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the company for workplace harassment and discrimination.
Despite the lawsuit and subsequent allegations of “frat boy” culture and woman abuse, fallout continues this week, with former Blizzard presenter J. Allen Brack resigning and T-Mobile hiding its logo during Call of Duty League broadcasts.
State Farm told WAPO that it will “reevaluate our limited marketing relationship with the Overwatch League” and has asked the league not to run any State Farm-related content or ads this weekend. Coca-Cola told the publication it is aware of the situation at Activision Blizzard and it is stepping back from the relationship to reevaluate future programs and plans related to ABE.
The future of key CDL and OWL sponsors and partners remains unclear, but no one has explicitly stated that they have severed all ties with ABE.