Nintendo has now expressed its concern in an email to employees regarding last week's bombshell report by The Wall Street Journal regarding Activision Blizzard's CEO Bobby Kotick and the company's handling of reports of harassement and discrimination. Nintendo joins Microsoft and Sony in sharing their concern, though none of the companies have made an overt public statement on the matter.
The email, which was first obtained and reported by Fanbyte, comes from Nintendo President Doug Bowser. In the email, Bowser states that the reports regarding Activision Blizzard last week, calling the accounts "distressing and disturbing."
From the email from Bowser via Fanbyte:
"Along with all of you, I’ve been following the latest developments with Activision Blizzard and the ongoing reports of sexual harassment and toxicity at the company[.] I find these accounts distressing and disturbing. They run counter to my values as well as Nintendo’s beliefs, values and policies.”
Fanbyte states that the letter goes on to assure employees that Nintendo is "committed to having an open and inclusive workplace where all are welcome."
A Nintendo representative speaking to the outlet confirmed the contents of the email and stated they have been in contact with Activision Blizzard and have "taken action," though exactly what that means is unclear.
This joins the chorus of the other two major platform holders who sent emails to their employees last week, which have found their way to the press. Sony PlayStation's Jim Ryan told employees (via Bloomberg's Jason Schreier) that he was "disheartened and frankly stunned" regarding the bombshell report, and goes on to state that Sony does not believe Activision Blizzard's "statements of response properly address the situation." Those statements of response he's referring to are the Activision Blizzard Board of Directors doubling down on protecting CEO Bobby Kotick in light of reports that he knew and withheld information regarding sexual harassment and discrimination claims from the board, per the WSJ.
Microsoft's Phil Spencer joined Ryan a few days later, stating that the tech giant is evaluating its relationship with Activision Blizzard in the wake of the reports, stating that the behavior displayed has "no place in our industry."
This all stems from the aforementioned Wall Street Journal report which alleges that CEO Bobby Kotick knew about allegations levied at the publisher and hid the allegations. The Journal also reports disturbing accounts from Kotick himself, including an account where he allegedly sent a threatening voicemail to a former employee, threatening to have her killed. Since the report came out last week, Activision Blizzard's stock prices have continued to fall, though the Board of Directors has given Kotick their vote of confidence amid calls for his immediate resignation.
The report also prompted another employee walkout and has seen thousands of employees and industry members sign petitions to remove Kotick from his position atop Activision Blizzard. Recently it was reported that Jen Oneal, Blizzard's Co-leader following the resignation of President J. Allen Brack, resigned her position and is set to leave the company by the end of the year, with reports stating that the former head of Vicarious Visions was paid less than her counterpart, Mike Ybarra, at Blizzard. Oneal stated in a Slack thread (as reported by IGN) that she was only offered an equal contract after she had tendered her resignation.
Amidst the reports, Kotick stated to Activision Blizzard leadership he would "consider" stepping down if he couldn't fix the issues within the company fast enough, though it should be noted that he doesn't outright state he would step down - only that it's a possibility. Activision Blizzard late last night (on a holiday week no less) announced their Workplace Responsibility Committee, which will oversee regular updates on the progress of its new "policies, procedures and commitments to improve workplace culture and eliminate all forms of harassment and discrimination at the Company."
The new workplace committee is headed up by two of the board members, Dawn Ostroff and Reveta Bowers, both of whom are independent members of the Activision Blizzard board. Kotick will be required to provide progress updates which will in turn be reported to by the board. Further the Workplace Responsibility Committee is empowered to bring in independent and outside consultatns, advisors as well as their own legal counsel.