Activision Blizzard Set to Pay $50 Million Settlement in Harassment and Gender Discrimination Lawsuit, Only Two Months After Microsoft Gets the Acquisition Green Light

A hefty sum to pay.

Activision Blizzard Set to Pay $50 Million Settlement in Harassment and Gender Discrimination Lawsuit, Only Two Months After Microsoft Gets the Acquisition Green Light

SUMMARY

  • Activision is one of the most long-standing gaming publishers in the video gaming industry and the publisher owns one of the most profitable FPS franchises, Call of Duty.
  • Despite such high-profile releases and IPs to its name, the studio isn't known for the best work culture and has had a lawsuit registered against it for harassment, discrimination and unequal pay.
  • Wall Street Journal has reported that the company will have to settle the lawsuit after paying a considerable sum of money due to California's Civil Rights Department suing the publisher in 2021.
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Activision is one of the most long-standing gaming publishers in the video gaming industry. The publisher owns one of the most profitable FPS franchises, Call of Duty, apart from other IPs like World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Diablo. Microsoft acquired the studio in a whopping 69 billion US Dollar deal, which got the green light two months ago.

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Despite such high-profile releases and IPs to its name, the studio isn’t known for having the best work culture. Recently, there has been news of severe misconduct, including gender discrimination and harassment. All of this was reported to be occurring, and the studio’s CEO was allegedly aware of it, as per a report from the Wall Street Journal. Now, once again, the Wall Street Journal has reported that the company will have to settle the lawsuit after paying a considerable sum of money due to California’s Civil Rights Department suing the publisher in 2021.

Activision agrees to pay 50 US Dollars to settle two-year-old lawsuit

Activision CEO, Bobby Kotick
Activision CEO, Bobby Kotick

As stated earlier, the Wall Street Journal published the report, stating that the lawsuit that incentivized the publisher’s acquisition by Microsoft is being settled for a sum of money. This follows after the publisher has been under scrutiny for quite some time due to its unhealthy “frat boy” corporate culture enabling problematic activities, especially against female members of the workforce.

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As per the same report, the amount is over 50 million USD Dollars. This is just months after the deal with Xbox Game Studios owner in October. All of this began two years ago when California’s Civil Rights Department claimed the publisher’s heads did not pay heed to any of the complaints that were coming in about unequal pay. The story doesn’t end there as the reports of complaints against harassment on the grounds of one’s sexual orientation and gender also came to light.

As expected, the Call of Duty publisher denied such claims and allegations. It also stated that the company’s board of directors initiated an internal probe to investigate further. Per the company, no conclusive proof indicated that it had been hiding skeletons in its closet and that the claims of such malpractices had no basis.

As per the Wall Street Journal, which broke the news, the sum to be paid for the settlement of the lawsuit against the publisher was initially much more massive. The American newspaper and media company stated that:

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The state in 2021 estimated Activision’s liability at nearly $1 billion to 2,500 employees who might have claims against the company,court documents show.

It was also stated further that as of 2022’s end, the workforce headcount at the publisher was approximately 13,000. This meant that almost 19 percent of the workforce made claims in the company, and almost one in five people felt threatened by the company’s culture. All of this is beyond deplorable. The Journal also stated that the monetary compensation payable by the publisher was initially more significant than the one Riot Games paid in May 2023. Riot Games had to pay 100 Million US Dollars to settle a similar legal action taken against it.

Did Microsoft’s acquisition make things easier for Activision?

The Microsoft and Activision deal occured despite some speedbumps.
The Microsoft and Activision deal occurred despite some speedbumps.

The publisher has been surrounded by such reports of the toxic culture at its workplace. The announcement of the deal had come when the news of the lawsuit was making headlines left, right, and center.

During that time, when things seemed to be going downhill for the video game publisher, it was suspected that many other giants in the tech industry were considered acquirers for it. The CEO of the Overwatch publisher also came under fire for allegedly knowing about the misconduct happening in the company. At the same time, he had doubts about the deal, and the board of directors went through with it.

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It is worth imagining what would have happened if the game publisher had not been under the umbrella of Xbox Game Studios when the proceedings were going on. At the same time, there is no evidence on paper of Microsoft’s presence and influence over the settlement and its conclusion. Having the second-most profitable tech company on your side can only have benefits and virtually no disadvantages. In the grand scheme, these reports of unhealthy work cultures at companies and misconduct show how far the gaming industry has to go to be more inclusive for everyone.

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Written by Sparsh Jaimini

Articles Published: 302

Sparsh Jaimini Sharma is a video games enthusiast and a Games Writer. A true white-blooded Madridsta. He is often seen grinding away at EAFC 24's Ultimate team and learning to code when he is not writing. A Batman fan and Arkham Games connoisseur. He is the quintessential DC aficionado.