When Scifi.Radio’s coverage of the ongoing gender-based abuse taking place in the gaming industry began in November of last year, it was shocking. As Activision Blizzard took center stage as a noxious example of corruption, discrimination, and bigoted abuses of power, it was horrifying. When the sale of the company was announced and further controversy arose with whispers of insider trading, it was unsurprising.
Now that the sale of Activision to Microsoft has been unanimously approved by its shareholders, it’s getting downright criminal.
It’s common knowledge at this point that Bobby Kotick was responsible for the rampant frat boy culture at Activision Blizzard, and not merely in his capacity as CEO, a leader who is representative of the actions of those beneath him. Kotick was aware of the abuses that led to the lawsuit levied by the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing in July of 2021, and not only did nothing to stop them, but took part in the abuses himself. Making death threats against an assistant was only one of the innumerable crimes allegedly committed by Kotick personally during the documented period that the lawsuit made public late last year. Whether it was allegedly failing to report the rape of an employee to the company’s board of directors, or intervening to ensure that Treyarch co-head Dan Bunting, who was accused of sexual harassment in 2017, from being fired, Kotick hasn’t been subtle about his willingness to cross any line.
In addition, workers at Activision Blizzard and other companies have gone on strike to protest not just the terrible conditions of employment, but the presence of Kotick as CEO—a man who takes the concept of ‘pushing boundaries’ in a decidedly disgusting direction. Multiple calls have been made for his resignation. Action has been demanded for his part in the abuses.
Now, not only does he continue to run the company, but he looks to turn a massive profit for his wrongdoing.
This past Friday, in Activision Blizzard’s annual proxy statement, not only was Kotick’s stake in the company disclosed, but so was his severance under existing agreements—a severance he would receive should he quit or be fired under a variety of circumstances within a year of the company’s change of hands.
Of course, this boils down to one simple fact: Kotick’s still in power, will remain in power for the time being, and he’s going to profit off of his own wrongdoing.
After all, much of this is contingent upon the generous price of $95.00/share that Microsoft is paying for the company. Kotick owns 4.3 million shares of Activision, and has the right to acquire at least another 2.2 million more. This means that, as a shareholder, and a significant one at that, he also has a voice in issues such as the approval of the company’s purchase.
Which would never have happened if not for the company’s gross wrongdoing.
This, readers, is the root of the issues that have been causing nothing but disruption and suffering since well before the November revelation. This is about accountability, accountability that Activision, as a company, refuses to take for its actions and its inactions; accountability for those who have not only hurt and degraded countless women in the company, but have done so at the cost of a human life.
This is about accountability for a man who, after claiming he would step down if it was warranted, refused to budge when his own employees and the world at large called for his job alongside a list of his alleged crimes.
When a man who breaks the law gets paid a king’s ransom for doing it? He’s no longer a man: he’s a criminal.
And those in power are just sitting by, watching it all happen.
It’s a blessing and a curse in the field of journalism that one must always stay abreast of the latest headlines. Our grim news cycle can be taxing on anyone’s mental health, but there are those rare days when it’s a boon. Sometimes, while fact checking a story and researching details, something crops up to offer some relief from the bleak and hopeless miasma of human suffering that’s in every news update.
Today, I found mine in New York City—at long last—finally just saying it out loud: Bobby Kotick will stop at nothing to save his own skin.
While this part of the story is late breaking, it is by no means insignificant. The Delaware lawsuit rehashes a lot of what we already know about the ongoing story with Activision Blizzard’s ever-lengthening list of scandals. It also asserts that the sale price per share grossly undervalues the company, to the detriment of shareholders. However, it also hammers home a few important things while shedding new light in other previously dark areas.
Filed by the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, alongside pension funds for the city fire department and police, as well as the board of education and teachers’ retirement systems—all of whom hold stock in the company— the suit alleges that Kotick’s crimes extend to a failure to submit all requested records following a Section 220 Demand, which is a legal process within Delaware’s Court of Chancery allowing invested parties to request access to books and documents. This comes in tandem with allegations that Kotick had knowledge of the abuses within the company and his failure to take action.
What’s new is that, while being responsible for negotiations with Microsoft to begin the merger—a merger that would in all likelihood save him from all culpability—Kotick began these negotiations a mere three days after the Wall Street Journal reported on his wrongdoing.
We can only continue to learn more as this suit progresses, and Scifi.Radio will be here to keep you informed. For the time being, there may not be any rest for the weary reporter, but there is a healthy measure of satisfaction in knowing that there’s still hope.
Maybe, just maybe—just this once—crime really doesn’t pay.
Liz Carlie (she/her/he/him) is a regular book, TV, and film reviewer for SCIFI.radio and has previously been a guest on ‘The Event Horizon’. In addition to being an active member of the traditional fandom community, she’s also an active participant in online fan culture, pro wrestling journalism, and spreading the gospel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She resides in Southern California with her aspiring superhero dog, Junior, enjoying life one hyperfixation at a time.