As the wider gaming world responds yesterday’s latest wave of allegations against seniors at Activision, including the reigning world champion in 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 “discouraged and frankly stunned.”
The email – which Ryan probably wrote, knowing it would be leaked to the press immediately – prompted PlayStation’s boss to express his serious disappointment with Activision’s response to yesterday’s Wall Street Journal revelations. BloombergIt reports Jason Schreier he has seen the email and quotes Ryan as saying he believes Activision “has not done enough to address a deep-seated culture of discrimination and harassment.”
Apparently, PlayStation “contacted Activision immediately after the article was published to express our deep concern,” Ryan writes, “and to ask them how they plan to address the allegations in the article.” He continues: “We do not believe that their statements of reaction address the situation correctly.”
This response began with Kotick’s extremely poorly rated decision to send a video to Activision staff. In it, he told them how awful it was 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 ago after barely a few months in the job, due to being “tokenized, marginalized and discriminated against.”
This was then followed by one equally poorly organized public opinion, where Activision had the frankly confused audacity to call itself “the industry’s most accommodating and inclusive workplace” months after the California lawsuit described an employee’s suicide.
So, if that should not be enough, Activision’s board issued a statement. In it, they responded to the new allegations, claiming that Kotick was aware of all the problems in the workplace that he has previously said he had never heard of, saying: “The board remains convinced that Bobby Kotick in an appropriate manner addressed issues in the workplace that he was made aware of. “
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 that raises the rather obvious question: what now? What should Sony or PlayStation really do, if anything?
Read more: PlayStation Boss wants change he is not willing to make
Right now, the only thing that makes sense for anyone working below company level at Activision is pressure on Kotick to resign. And the only thing that will pressure its board of directors and major shareholders to make that happen is financial threat. Relying on a pinch of human decency from anyone among their number should have long ago been 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 is intended and without a doubt useless. If Jim Ryan really cares about Kotick’s abysmal lack of termination, he should a) call for it directly, and b) at least hint at financial implications for Activision Blizzard.
The whole industry has to go up at this point and demand Kotick’s head. It must be completely unlikely that he can retain his position. Clearly, the miserable man intends to weather this storm, hope it blows over, and wait for the world’s attention to move on to something else. We need people like Jim Ryan to prevent that from happening, and not just hope for a positive coverage and industry kudos of a sensible leaked internal mail.
We have contacted both Sony and Activision regarding this story, but have not heard back at the time of publication.
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