Blizzard’s all-hands meeting to address the recent events left many workers unsettled, and Blizzard is now focusing on regaining player trust.
Blizzard’s Mike Ybarra sent out a public letter to the company’s gamers earlier this evening. Following the dismissal of J. Allen Brack last summer, Ybarra was named co-lead of Blizzard Entertainment; his partner co-lead, Jen Oneal, resigned last autumn when it was revealed that she had been underpaid, bullied, and tokenized (though not by Ybarra).
Ybarra obliquely addresses the ongoing sexual harassment and discrimination and labor scandal, as well as this week’s news that Microsoft is buying Activision-Blizzard, by saying that Blizzard’s top priority is “the work [Blizzard is] doing to rebuild your trust in Blizzard,” which is an odd way to center players’ opinions in a situation that is primarily about labor and accountability.
To that end, Ybarra says the studio will be “directly measuring [its] executive and management teams directly against culture improvement,” including Ybarra, as well as hiring a culture lead, a new “organization leader” for HR, and a diversity and inclusion rep to dedicate more full-time positions to improving Blizzard culture. He also claims that Blizzard has tripled the size of its compliance/investigation teams, that a new feedback program for employees has been implemented, and that policies apply to all levels of management, including leadership and management, which has been a source of contention in the past because Activision executives have not been held accountable.
We may apparently expect some type of statement next week.
“We also recognize the need to provide more frequent material to our users and to innovate both inside and outside of our current games.” We have some fantastic news to share, and I’ll have more information next week.”
Meanwhile, according to WAPO, Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick held a brief all-hands virtual meeting with employees this morning, telling them that he was committed to staying in his position: “Once the deal closes, what I’ve committed to Microsoft is that I will stay as long as it takes to ensure that we have a great integration and a great transition.” He also allegedly informed employees that Microsoft was “dedicated to retaining as many of [ABK’s] individuals as possible,” which employees mistook for a suggestion that layoffs were on the way. Another source said that Kotick “considered Activision as crucial as his children,” implying that he would have to be dragged away from the firm. He didn’t seem to address the strike, the litigation, or the continuing controversy.