Today, multitudes of current and former employees of Activision Blizzard, as well as many across the gaming industry, have staged a walkout in protest to the company's response to the allegations that Activision Blizzard allowed a culture of sexual discrimination flourish at the studio.
The walkout, which has seen many people from around the industry congregate in front of the main gate of the Blizzard campus in Southern California, is a demonstration by current and former employees as well as others from around the industry to push back against not just the response by Activision Blizzard to the lawsuit allegations, but also push for real, cultural change within the company.
As part of the walkout, the organizers of the protest have detailed demands they wish to work with Activision Blizzard leadership on, including dropping mandatory arbitration, publishing compensation data across all genders and ethnicities across Activision Blizzard and more.
The walkout isn't just happening in person, with many players logging into World of Warcraft before the walkout began to take part in a mass log-out protest.
Players are organizing a virtual protest and walkout in support of the #ActiBlizzWalkout?? A coordinated mass logout will take place in Oribos at 10am PST on July 28th.https://t.co/wLbzfrzge3 pic.twitter.com/2ZFQkzZVSC— Wowhead?? (@Wowhead) July 28, 2021
Late last night, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick sent press release addressed to employees in the first public statement by the CEO since the allegations were brought by a California agency against Activision Blizzard. In it, Kotick called the response by the company "tone deaf" and detailed steps the company is taking to ensure that the company creates "long-lasting change." This includes bringing in a third-party law firm to conduct a "review" of Activision Blizzard's policies.
However, the walkout organizers say, via a statement sent to reporter Megan Farokmanesh from Axios, that the statement "fails to address critical elements at the heart of employee concerns."
Activision Blizzard walkout organizers just released a statement in response to CEO Bobby Kotick's email to staff in which he described the company's response as "tone deaf" pic.twitter.com/64D7w8PhOL— Megan Farokhmanesh (@Megan_Nicolett) July 28, 2021
Here is the statement in full by the event organizers (emphasis theirs):
"On the evening before our employee walkout, Activision Blizzard leadership released a statement apologizing for their harmful responses to last week’s DFEH lawsuit. While we are pleased to see that our collective voices—including an open letter with thousands of signatures from current employees—have convinced leadership to change the tone of their communications, this response fails to address critical elements at the heart of employee concerns.
Activision Blizzard’s response did not address the following:
- The end of forced arbitration for all employees.
- Worker participation in oversight of hiring and promotion policies.
- The need for greater pay transparency to ensure equality.
- Employee selection of a third party to audit HR and other company processes.
Today’s walkout will demonstrate that this is not a one-time event that our leaders can ignore. We will not return to silence; we will not be placated by the same processes that led us to this point.
This is the beginning of an enduring movement in favor of better labor conditions for all employees, especially women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.
We expect a prompt response and a commitment to action from leadership on the points enumerated above, and look forward to maintaining a constructive dialogue on how to build a better Activision Blizzard for all employees.
Today, we stand up for change. Tomorrow and beyond, we will be the change."
The protest is playing out on Twitter, with myriad people using the hastag #ActiBlizzWalkout as well as a the blue heart emoji to show support. Many people from across the gaming world are also joining in wherever they are, either by tweeting about the walkout or donating the the charities the organizers requested in lieu of being able to participate in person.
Incredibly proud of all my friends and former colleagues at Blizzard for helping organize and taking part in the walkout today.Make it the place we all wanted it to be ?? #ActiBlizzWalkout pic.twitter.com/kODC0Lr5co— Terra Field ????? #ActiBlizzWalkout ??? (@RainofTerra) July 28, 2021
When I left my contract gig at Activision, I was handed a copy of an NDA that will never expire. Then I got it via e-mail. I was then mailed a third copy at home to be sure I knew I was never to speak about my time at Activision.I hope the #ActiBlizzWalkout creates change.— Dan Amrich (@DanAmrich) July 28, 2021