A hot potato: Activision Blizzard and its CEO Bobby Kotick have become the targets of a staff revolt of sorts. Following allegations that Kotick knew about sexual harassment within the company (and even took steps to participate or protect accused individuals), over 1,000 employees have signed a petition demanding his resignation. The fallout from this catastrophe has spread far beyond the walls of Activision Blizzard HQ, however. The company's business partners, including Xbox and Sony execs, have expressed concern over how things have been handled.
The first such executive to reveal his discontent was PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan. We reported on this news yesterday, but as a brief refresher, Ryan said in an internal email to PS employees that he was "disheartened and frankly stunned" to read the Wall Street Journal's recent report on Kotick and Activision Blizzard.
He also noted that the company's response to the news was lacking. Ryan's team reached out to Activision "immediately" after the article's publication to express their "deep concern" and determine how the entertainment giant would address the allegations leveled against it.
Xbox Chief Phil Spencer chimed in with his own thoughts recently by penning a similar internal email to his workers. Bloomberg managed to view a copy of this email and shared a few quote snippets.
At one point, Spencer reportedly wrote that he was "disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions" at Activision Blizzard, which echoes Ryan's sentiments. However, Spencer has taken his anger a step further -- currently, Xbox is evaluating "all aspects" of its relationship with Activision Blizzard and will make "ongoing proactive adjustments" as needed.
Those are surprisingly powerful words for a high-level gaming executive. Whether or not Spencer really will take action remains to be seen, but now that he's openly expressed his willingness to do so, Activision is in quite a bind.
Spencer theoretically has control over Xbox game distribution and ad deals -- having either of those revenue streams disrupted would be a tremendous blow to Activision's bottom line, so there's a strong incentive here for the company to right the ship.
We'll have to wait and see what that might look like. It may involve Kotick's resignation, or it may not; only time will tell.