PlayStation Boss Calls Out Activision Following Dire Kotick Revelations

PlayStation Boss Calls Out Activision Following Dire Kotick Revelations
Image: Scott Olson / GI.biz / Kotaku, Getty Images

As the wider gaming world reacts to yesterday’s latest wave of allegations against senior figures at Activision, including the reigning world champion of hubris-before-a-fall, CEO Bobby Kotick, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan expressed his disappointment at Activision’s response. In an email sent to PlayStation staff, Ryan said he felt “disheartened and frankly stunned.”

The email — which Ryan likely wrote knowing it would be immediately leaked to press — has PlayStation’s chief expressing his severe disappointment in Activision’s response to yesterday’s Wall Street Journal revelations. Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier reports he has seen the email, quoting Ryan as saying he believes Activision “has not done enough to address a deep-seated culture of discrimination and harassment.”

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

Said response began with Kotick’s extremely poorly-judged decision to send a video to Activision staff. In it, he told them how dreadful the WSJ piece was, and how wonderful it is to work at Activision — a company whose first woman in a leadership position resigned a few weeks back after barely a couple of months in the job, because of being “tokenized, marginalised, and discriminated against.”

This was then followed by an equally ill-advised public statement, in which Activision had the frankly deranged audacity to call itself “the industry’s most welcoming and inclusive workplace” months after the California lawsuit described an employee suicide.

Then, just in case that weren’t enough, Activision’s board of directors issued a statement. In it, they responded to the new allegations that claimed Kotick knew about all the workplace issues he’d previously said to have never heard of, by saying, “The Board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention.”

So yes, Jim Ryan certainly has a good point when he says that Activision “has not done enough to address a deep-seated culture of discrimination and harassment.” But it raises the rather obvious question: what now? What is Sony or PlayStation actually going to do, if anything?

Read more: PlayStation Boss Wants Change He’s Not Willing To Make

Right now, the only thing that’s meaningful to anyone working below the corporate level at Activision is pressure on Kotick to resign. And the only thing that will push its board of directors and major shareholders to make that happen is financial threat. Clearly relying on an iota of human decency from anyone among their number should have been long abandoned.

Ryan’s words are designed to look like someone giving a shit about something, guaranteed to reach the press, but without being seen deliberately issuing a public statement. It’s calculated, and arguably useless. If Jim Ryan really gives a damn about Kotick’s abysmal failure to resign, he needs to a) call for that directly, and b) at the very least insinuate financial consequences for Activision Blizzard.

The whole industry needs to step up at this point, and demand Kotick’s head. It needs to be utterly implausible that he might keep his position. Clearly the wretched man intends to weather this storm, hope it will blow over, and wait for the world’s attention to move on to something else. We need the likes of Jim Ryan to stop that from happening, not just hoping for some positive coverage and industry kudos by a judiciously leaked internal mail.

We’ve contacted both Sony and Activision regarding this story, but have not heard back at the time of publication.

Comments

  • “Ryan’s words are designed to look like someone giving a shit about something, guaranteed to reach the press, but without being seen deliberately issuing a public statement. It’s calculated, and arguably useless.”

    “The whole industry needs to step up at this point, and demand Kotick’s head.”

    So Playstation does step up and you call them out as calculated. Then you call for everyone in the industry to ‘step up’. Sony didn’t have to respond, they could have just stayed silent. It would help others in the industry respond if the press wasn’t so cynical about any form of response to this.

    • I don’t think John would be cynical about ANY form of response. He’s calling here for a response from the industry that actually means something, rather than what amounts to virtue signalling.

      For example, Sony could threaten to de-list ActiBlizz’s games from the PS Store unless something was done to address the situation because they don’t want to be associated with such a toxic business. You can bet something like that would put a fire under the ass of the shareholders.

      In the unlikely event that ActiBlizz called their bluff to save Kotick, Sony would end up losing some money as a result of delisting the catalog. And… yep, sometimes doing the right thing isn’t free. But it probably wouldn’t come to that, the threat would likely be enough.

      • I am pretty sure Sony has an agreement with Activision Blizzard with the Call of Duty Series, could be other agreements as well, not sure. So if Sony de-listed Activision Blizzard products, it would break their own contract and Sony would lose a big chunk of money, not just from the money spent but maybe Activision Blizzard suing due to breaking contract, I am not a lawyer so just speculating.

        @John, maybe he did send the email with the intention of it being leaked, good, that puts more pressure on Activision Blizzard to do something. But you don’t know for sure. I bet you wrote this article and worded it this way to fluff your feathers to show your feathery chest of domination of your journalism. Others can speculate too, doesn’t mean its correct.

  • Sony bosses might not want to be grandstanding here cause their own backyard is also a mess. Sony Australia had to let go of their CEO and a some senior executives for a long history of toxic and sexist workplace behaviours.

  • Let’s be real here, John.
    Kotaku is running stories about the controversy while also spruking Activision products and games to chase clicks and advertising $$$

    I agree that it’s time to put pressure on Activision financially but perhaps stop criticising others if your not willing to actually do the same.
    Put your money where your mouth is, black list all Activision game reviews and OP’s and stick to putting pressure on them.

    • I’d support Kotaku doing that, but I don’t think John makes those kinds of decisions. Writing these kinds of articles is maybe the most he can actually do in his position.

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