Multiple new reports today provided another look into the allegedly toxic studio culture within Activision Blizzard, as Bloomberg and The Washington Post both published pieces incorporating interviews with former and current employees of the company’s Blizzard division.
As reported by Bloomberg, an assistant of Blizzard co-founder and former CEO Michael Morhaime claimed to have informed him as well as other senior leadership about rampant misconduct that went on within the company.
Morhaime had departed the publisher in 2018 after serving as CEO for 28 years.
The Bloomberg report also presents a shift in the company culture as it gained more popularity to the point where its developers were being seen as rock stars.
“These developers were untouchable. Not only could they tell you how to do your job, but they had so much power, they could do whatever they want in line of sight with their other powerful friends,” former employee Christina Mikkonen told the site.
The Post’s sources appeared to back that up, with one former longtime Blizzard employee saying, “In my experience, you just stopped going to HR. They were almost like a gang that would ruin your career if you reported certain individuals.”
A source recalled a conversation to Bloomberg where an executive expressed to staff that young women who were fans or worked at the company see them as superstars and “why shouldn’t they benefit sexually from that?”
The report also notes senior Blizzard execs Morhaime, founder Frank Pearce, and former president J. Allen Brack all married women in less senior roles at the company. This set an uncomfortable precedent for some of the female staff, a source told Bloomberg, as it led to unwanted sexual advances at work.
The power dynamics at the company were also reportedly present in the gender pay disparities that female employees experienced, Bloomberg said.
Former staff said that they had lower salaries than their male coworkers who had similar work experience. A source shared a screenshot of a manager telling her that pay discussions among staff were prohibited.
The California Equal Pay Act of 2015 made it illegal for employers to prohibit workers from discussing their pay with each other.
An Activision Blizzard spokesperson told Bloomberg that the company “strives to pay all employees equitably for equal work.”
“We take every allegation seriously and will investigate all claims,” a spokesperson told The Washington Post.
“We will not tolerate anyone found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences. If employees have any concerns about how Human Resources handled claims, including those related to retaliation, we have other reporting options, including anonymous ones.”