PlayStation boss Jim Ryan criticises Activision scandals in internal email

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PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan has reportedly criticised Activision and their inadequate response to sexual harassment and discrimination allegations in an internal email sent to PlayStation employees.

Bloomberg reports that Ryan sent an email to employees on Tuesday after the Wall Street Journal published a story detailing Activision CEO Bobby Kotick’s prior knowledge of sexual harassment cases within his company and having a hand in harbouring those accused.

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In the email, Ryan wrote that he was “disheartened and frankly stunned to read” that Activision “has not done enough to address a deep-seated culture of discrimination and harassment.”

Additionally, “We outreached to Activision immediately after the article was published to express our deep concern and to ask how they plan to address the claims made in the article. We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation.”

The simple fact that Ryan saw the need to send such an email is damning of Activision’s mishandling of the many mounting allegations from employees. Activision is a key partner to PlayStation, having a long-running marketing deal with the console platform for Call of Duty, while also having deep historical ties for other franchises such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. They need to see Activision clean up their act, otherwise having a PlayStation branding tied to multi-million dollar marketing campaigns and TV adverts will drag Sony’s console and reputation down by association.

The turmoil at Activision is coming from all angles. Started by a DFEH lawsuit filed in California earlier this year, there have been further government and investor lawsuits to investigate allegations of workplace misconduct and how the company leadership has handled knowledge of these cases. Employees have formed the ABK Workers Alliance to try and push the company into reform, and are even considering attempts to unionise (which is a huge deal for the games industry as a whole and rather difficult to do in the US).

While Activision has taken several public steps to address the situation, the initially dismissive stance switching to a new zero tolerance policy announced by Kotick, the Activision boss himself has now been dragged into the allegations. the WSJ reporting asserts that he failed to give sufficient updates to the board of directors about sexual harassment, rape and discrimination, and actively interfered with an investigation into Treyarch co-head Dan Bunting. Bunting was retained in 2019, despite recommendations that he be dismissed, but has now departed when WSJ contacted Activision regarding their report.

Following the WSJ report, the ABK Workers Alliance has called for Kotick’s removal from his position as CEO, in line with the company’s new zero tolerance policy. The group called for an employee walkout, which over 150 employees did – which is quite impressive when working from home is still prevalent.

Meanwhile, the board of directors has backed Kotick, saying in a statement that “The board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention.”

Source: Bloomberg

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