How much Activision does it take to change a Blizzard?

Guess we won’t ever be seeing Terminus 2 (sad Brian noises)

If folks are looking for a not-Overwatch, the Gundam game being tested on Steam is getting a lot of Overwatch comparisons, but well, Gundams instead of Blizzard’s Heroes.

Gundam Evolution.

Dayum that looks nice. That is going to sell a LOT of gundam kits.

This, uh, seems like a big deal.

I imagine it has something to do with all the accusations of legal impropriety at DFEH from last year.

Reading the heavily-redacted EEOC/DFEH pissing-match filings, it sure looks like those two attorneys screwed up. It’s ok to change jobs, and probably to represent your new client in an ongoing cooperative investigation as long as their interests remain parallel. But if the interests of the two clients diverge so far it becomes opposing each other in litigation, you need to hit the silk when you see that forming up. Get off the case, put an ethical wall up between you and anything/anyone involved in the case, and keep your mouth & ears shut. But they kept working on it even when it turned into litigation between the former & current client, which looks like a very obvious conflict.

I used to represent two adjacent cities. Luckily they were on friendly terms and rarely interacted more than socially. But even when something fairly benign came up - they wanted to negotiate a contract for one of them to borrow the other’s police canine unit sometimes - I thoroughly stepped aside. I informed both clients in writing of my possible conflict, assigned the negotiations for one client to another attorney in our office, obtained outside counsel for the other client (and got that firm to agree to lower their rate to what I charged), then sent a memo & personally spoke to everyone in our office about keeping me out of the negotiations. Don’t even discuss it out loud if you merely suspect I might be within earshot. I directed that all relevant physical documents be kept in a locked drawer that I could not access, and had our IT make sure I was locked out of access to any electronic documents or emails about the negotiations. When the contract came up before the respective City Councils, I had colleagues cover those meetings instead, even though it was only one of 20+ items on their agendas. I never saw the contract until it was signed by both sides. They were both part of the same insurance pool, so when we did have a bite case arise out of that contract a couple years later, they were required to hand it over to the pool attorneys and I wasn’t involved. But still, when the pool attorneys would want to update the Councils in closed session, I’d leave the room. Ethical walls are difficult to do, but not impossible if you are dedicated to your clients’ best interests and protecting yourself from any appearance of impropriety.

This doesn’t mean that Newsom didn’t meddle in the case. But if he did, the attorneys’ conduct sure made it easy to kick the State’s case in the balls and leave the litigation ship with nobody at the helm.

Holy shit, Sheryl Sandberg was dating Kotick? So we now include Facebook’s scummary into this?

That’s it, you’ve convinced me. We should burn Facebook to the ground.

Dammit they got to him!

Whew! Glad that’s settled!

We have investigated ourselves and the only thing that we are guilty of is that we are fine, upstanding gentlemen. Good day, sirs.

Diablo IV will also not be monetized like Immortal.

Clearly we can trust this!

Complete bullshit. Even though Gilbert Casellas seems to have the bona fides, I doubt he was given the keys to the kingdom or was tasked with determining if the leadership hiring him were in any way culpable.

Also, if they were committed to any transparency, they’d be asking him to publish an externally facing report, rather front-ending it themselves and likely cherry picking the non-damaging bits.

Does Activision think people are fucking stupid? Wait…don’t answer that.

That report is trying to cover the company’s ass from shareholder suits (edit to add: and probably from SEC action) by making the Board & senior management sound clean. A couple of bits of the report stood out to me, having read lots & lots of employee discipline investigations.

"[T]he Board and its external advisors have determined that there is no evidence to suggest that Activision Blizzard senior executives ever intentionally ignored or attempted to downplay the instances of gender harassment that occurred and were reported.

“Intentionally” and “were reported” being the key phrases. This sentence is true even if they handled reported harassment horribly, or intentionally ignored incidents that they knew about but the harmed employee didn’t report (despite numerous & frequent rumors & office chatter).

The report also leaves out any discussion of whether management had a duty to initiate an investigation even if the employee didn’t complain.

That work also has not unearthed any evidence, directly or indirectly, suggesting any attempt by any senior executive or employee to conceal information from the Board. Outside advisors, after exhaustive review, also determined the Board never intentionally ignored or attempted to downplay the instances of gender harassment that occurred and were reported.

Again, technically true. Did the Board ever ask? Probably not, they were likely more concerned with how much more revenue King & Activision were bringing in compared to Blizzard. If the Board never asked about harassment problems or cases, then sure, nobody ever attempted to conceal anything. They didn’t hire compliance officers & such until recently, so the incidents of harassment would not be on the Board’s agenda unless they “were reported,” and then still might not reach the Board if they were settled for an amount within the CEO’s spending authority.

There’s the huge bulletpoint list of things AB has done to improve the situation, all of which happened mostly in 2021, after they were sued. I won’t repeat it here, but here’s a link to the five-page report: https://investor.activision.com/node/35426/html So with none of that in place yet, then sure, back then the Board likely never discussed or asked senior executives/employees about the apparently frequent but unreported harassments or whether there was a hostile workplace creating unknown liability for the company. Should the Board have asked? Probably. Should senior management taken action when they saw things that were clearly harassment but went unreported (like naming a room at Blizzcon “The Cosby Suite”)? Sure, but they didn’t, which is why the company got sued. But the Board never asked about it until then, never had specific information intentionally hidden from them, and then they took a bunch of actions to clean things up when they did learn about it, so they’re obviously squeaky-clean (/s).

And hey, you know, the company has had over 25,000 employees. Ya gotta expect a few complaints with that many people coming & going, right? How do I do a vomiting emoji on this board?

That is not nearly enough time to onboard a whole team and have them contribute in any significant way for a release later this year. That sounds crazy to me.

I imagine they’d be put on post-launch content.