Blizzard being sued by California

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Viralrain

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#1  Edited By Viralrain  Online
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Viralrain

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#2 Viralrain  Online

Accounts of a female employee killing herself while on a business trip because a male coworker showed up with butt plugs and lube!!!

Like...WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK!?!

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Viralrain

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#3  Edited By Viralrain  Online

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Humanity

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#4  Edited By Humanity

I guess the most depressing thing about this is that at this point it's not surprising. I love games and I sure do enjoying playing them, but the industry behind them is just this vortex of abuse. Worst of all we have been hearing quiet grumblings of these situations a long time ago, and then as the years went on more open articles were written, and then followed very blatant articles detailing harassments, mistreatment and lack of regulatory action.. and yet nothing changes.

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brian_

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#5  Edited By brian_

Two things come to mind reading Blizzard's statement.

1) I hope that, as they said, they have tried to make things better in recent years. For their employees sake. But they damn sure don't get the benefit of doubt from me.

2) You're not the fucking victims here, crying about a lawsuit after two years of investigation. Talking about how businesses are being driven out of California for having to face accountability. Give me a fucking break. Did Bobby Kotick write that thing himself? You're a corporation that appears to have hurt real people. Doesn't matter whether you've change or not. You still have to pay the repercussions.

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Ramone

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If what the suit alleges is true, that statement from Blizzard is pretty fucking disgusting.

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apewins

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When your company is 30 years old and one of the most successful ones in its industry, it's not a good look to say that you've made improvements in the last few years after you were initially sued, even if it were true. Actually I wonder how much of this is Activision influence, I doubt it's the OG developers who are in their 50s and 60s who are acting like frat boys over there.

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brian_

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@apewins: I have worked for men in their 50s who very much fit into that frat boy bullcrap. Desperate to prove they're still hip. Flirting with any women they can.

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MeierTheRed

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#9  Edited By MeierTheRed

It´s getting harder and harder buying games these days. Cut off Ubisoft a while back, but to be fair I haven´t bought an Activision/Blizzard game in years so it won´t be that hard to avoid them.

Its sad that dragging these companies to court will achieve nothing. And people have the memory of a goldfish, and all of this will be forgotten in a matter of weeks. Also some people just don´t care, and will happily support it. So there is no winning in this, which is sad for the people working for these shitty companies.

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brian_

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@meierthered: I also cut off Ubisoft a while back, and I just uninstalled Overwatch, which I've probably put close to 1000 hours into. Not that it really does any good, since I haven't spent a dime on it after the initial purchase of the game. But I guess I won't be buying Overwatch 2. That's something, I suppose.

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ALLTheDinos

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#11 ALLTheDinos  Online

I think this also potentially casts the exodus of Blizzard employees and formation of the Dreamhaven umbrella in a new light. I have to wonder now how many of those people left the company because there was finally heat coming from their predatory / harassing actions. I feel so bad for anyone who’s suffered under this company’s unconscionable behavior.

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MeierTheRed

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@brian_:

Yeah I´m not sure what else to do then to not support their products. I know a few lost sales won´t make a dent. But it makes me feel good about not supporting that gross behavior.

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Ramone

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It´s getting harder and harder buying games these days. Cut off Ubisoft a while back, but to be fair I haven´t bought an Activision/Blizzard game in years so it won´t be that hard to avoid them.

Its sad that dragging these companies to court will achieve nothing. And people have the memory of a goldfish, and all of this will be forgotten in a matter of weeks. Also some people just don´t care, and will happily support it. So there is no winning in this, which is sad for the people working for these shitty companies.

They need to be called out and publicly shamed by the largest names in games media (Giant Bomb included). It's not enough to report a news story when it happens and then just move on, people just forget. Change will only happen if you take a stand against these fuckers, don't cover their games and make the voices of the victims heard.

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bigsocrates

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@allthedinos: It's possible that those people were abusers, but it's also possible that they were being abused and/or they were trying to intercede to stop the abuse and they got pushed out for that reason. I've seen those things happen in a toxic workplace as well. I'm certainly not saying that they're definitely innocent, but I wouldn't tar everyone at a company with the same brush, and often trying to be a decent person at an indecent place can be just as if not more damaging to your career than being a toxic POS.

As for this base story, it's stomach churningly bad, and we all know that whatever happens will only be a slap on the wrist for the people actually responsible. When companies like this get fined it's actually the shareholders who are punished. I wish there were criminal charges for the criminal acts (it certainly seems like some of the described behaviors were sexual assault) and of course all of senior leadership should be fired as a matter of course in situations like this. A CEO is not responsible for one or two bad apples, but a culture of sexual abuse? That's absolutely something the CEO knows about and condones.

As for those who are saying that the video game industry is a hive of scum and villainy...it is, but so is basically every other industry! Especially "tournament" industries like entertainment where lots of people want to be involved but only a few can truly succeed. We need stronger standards and more enforcement across the board. The video game industry isn't the only place this stuff is happening. Not by a long shot.

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bigsocrates

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@ramone: Public shaming doesn't work in these situations. Most consumers just do not care. You think COD bros will stop playing COD because something bad happened to someone they don't know?

What we need is investigation of individuals (not just the company) and legal punishment. Jail time for people who committed sexual assault. Serious consequences. The SEC (or someone else) needs to be empowered to remove people from company leadership if they presided over a culture of sexual abuse just as surely as if they engaged in stock manipulation.

Public opinion doesn't work for accountability. Cancel culture isn't real, especially when people are not even front facing.

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Viralrain

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#16 Viralrain  Online

I just don't understand how shit like this happens at a work place, ESPECIALLY such a large company! How does no one stop this shit!

My guess is that it MUST be tolerated by upper management, even possibly done by members of upper management. If someone sees that taking these things to upper management gets ZERO results, doesn't fix the issue, then your choices become; deal with it, or quit. I just don't get how fucking disgusting people can be to other people.

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MeierTheRed

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@viralrain:

The thing I really have a hard time understanding is, if you take the Ubisoft case all those predatory assholes did not get fired, they got a slap over their wrists and either kept their position or got new ones. I honestly don´t understand how that benefits the company.

Those higherups are they really that crucial to the work, that the company would rather have such creeps hanging around putting a nasty shadow on the little people on the floor?

I cant even imagine how it must feel if you are a person who went to HR or whatever staff is responsible for reporting such behavior, continuing working in that building when you know the person who betrayed your personal boundaries and trust still roam the same halls as you.

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gamer_152

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#18  Edited By gamer_152  Moderator

@viralrain said:

I just don't understand how shit like this happens at a work place, ESPECIALLY such a large company! How does no one stop this shit!

My guess is that it MUST be tolerated by upper management, even possibly done by members of upper management. If someone sees that taking these things to upper management gets ZERO results, doesn't fix the issue, then your choices become; deal with it, or quit.

This is a huge part of it. People in considerable positions of power were implicated in the harrassment accusations at Riot, Gearbox, and Ubisoft, and it's a pattern that stretches far beyond the game industry. Powerful industry positions are also much more commonly staffed by men and generally less often by people who would be targets for discrimination and have some skin in the game. Broadly speaking, there's little incentive for upper management to properly handle harrassment cases because they don't want to bring negative attention to their company, they don't want to fire useful people, and they don't want to create a workplace system or culture in which there could be consequences for powerful people like them.

Ostensibly, HR departments are meant to deal with workplace abuse, but their effective function is to protect the company itself rather than seek justice for the abused. Why would powerful people create a department inside their own company that could control management like them? Reports get quashed, and investigations into harrassment, in the rare cases they do happen, are carried out by people who are part of the culture and system that created that harrassment in the first place. This deafness to harrassment accusations is one part of creating a culture in which harrassing coworkers seems acceptable to people.

All of this, of course, isn't lost on the harrassed. Challenging workplace abuse means dredging up some painful memories and putting them on display when the first thing that usually happens to harrassed people is that they're called liars and troublemakers and ultimately ignored. The in-group close ranks and the victim is isolated, and may have their job or even career on the line. You could purse legal recourse outside the company, but it is a long, expensive, and arduous process where anyone going up against a big company can expect their character to be assassinated, and again, where plenty of people haven't found any justice. For many victims, especially women, it simply doesn't seem worth it. None of these dynamics are unique to any one company or even the games industry; it's just how society at large treats abuse.

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bigsocrates

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@meierthered: People in high positions of power have personal relationships and it is in the interests of powerful people to cultivate impunity for the executive class. It's not about how valuable they are for the company per se, because almost everyone at every company is replaceable by one or more other people, it's about social status and personal connections.

There will only be consequences if the rest of us impose them, which is what democracy is supposed to do, but of course regulatory capture by plutocrats is a serious problem and accountability is rare and fleeting.

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Serryl

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@brian_ said:

... Did Bobby Kotick write that thing himself? You're a corporation that appears to have hurt real people. Doesn't matter whether you've change or not. You still have to pay the repercussions.

I asked myself the same question. Their response is so tone deaf and insulting, that I can't imagine it being authored by any PR professional. My money is on Kotick or another company officer writing the anti-government and defensive bits.

One of the many MANY times where saying, "No comment," would've been better.

As for the allegations themselves, I'm happy this is out in the open. I love gaming as a hobby but not at the expense of people's well-being and safety. I hope California argues a good case and Activision Blizzard becomes a better place to work as a result.

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Viralrain

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#21 Viralrain  Online

Yeah, the response from Blizzard;


"irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats that [is] driving many of the State’s best businesses out of California."

REALLY?!?! THAT is what you're going to say to this...get fuuuuuucked!
What an absolutely tone deaf response. Like, MY GOD!

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Viralrain

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#22 Viralrain  Online
@serryl said:

As for the allegations themselves, I'm happy this is out in the open. I love gaming as a hobby but not at the expense of people's well-being and safety. I hope California argues a good case and Activision Blizzard becomes a better place to work as a result.

I don't get how companies these days are not on top of this kind of shit!
You KNOW that these things are going to come to the surface, especially this day in age. How have companies not learned from this happening to other companies. At this point, it HAS TO BE a given that if you are condoning/harboring/participating in this kind of disgusting behavior it is GOING to be brought to the light eventually.

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elby

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Ugh, this is all disgusting. It's been since Overwatch that I've given Activision/Blizzard any of my money and I'm not sure what else I can do to show my displeasure directly to them because being angry about it on Twitter or in public really doesn't do any good and just causes more negativity.

Has anyone ever written to a government representative stating that you're angry about the abuse in this industry and want it to end? I don't live in California, so anyone I ostensibly have the ear of is outside of the area where they could have much of an effect on Activision, buuut I suppose I could write to the Californian representatives anyway.

Or it's likely also happening in my area (depressingly). I think I will try this.

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Kyary

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@bigsocrates said:

You think COD bros will stop playing COD because something bad happened to someone they don't know?

I don't actually know any "CoD Bros". I know people who play CoD, or have played CoD, but they're not like, unthinking assholes who don't care where their entertainment comes from.

I also think that in aggregate, bad news stories do cause people to stop playing games, and Blizzard has had a lot of bad press lately on a variety of different issues. If you were already thinking about uninstalling Battlenet, this could totally be the thing that pushes you to do it (or at least, feel bad about suggesting Overwatch the next time you're all online)

Of course, nothing beats jail time!

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Undeadpool

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@ramone: This has always frustrated me, even with sites I truly love. Jim Sterling is the only pundit I can think of who CONSISTENTLY brings up "Ubisoft continues to use their record profits to shield sexual predators from consequences" and "Activision laid off hundreds while bragging about record profits" while other sites cover awful stuff once, and then go onto talking about how "decent" the newest Assassin's Creed is.

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bmccann42

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Hey all,

I work in HR (feel free to hate me), and have worked in some crappy companies where I was disrespected by management while trying to protect my employees.

The details in the actual charge made my stomach drop and it is heartbreaking what is going on there. The actual response from Blizzard was the most tone-deaf, "we are the victims here" message that is all about protecting the share price, and not actually any kind of defence.

The sheer gall to try and bring up the employee who committed suicide as some kind of shield against charges made my blood boil, and the line about companies fleeing California could have come from the current Republican party.

If I wasn't previously done with Blizzard, I certainly am now. Was looking forward to Diablo 2, but this, the China stuff, and watching Bobby Kotick score backdated bonuses and stock options due to the pandemic have finished them for me.

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elby

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@bmccann42: Hey, you're on the front line combating abuse like this, so as long as you're remaining vigilant and working toward the right goals, you have a lot more power than the rest of us to fix these types of situations. I appreciate you for that and thank you for whatever pressure you've already applied.

And I essentially forgot all about the Hong Kong/Blizzard stuff until you mentioned it despite that being a cause I also care about. This is why we need much more than a negative public opinion to punish companies for their loosey goosey stance on human rights.

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MissAshley

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@elby: Just talking about it when and where you can still helps. I stopped giving Blizzard money after the Blitzchung incident, so I can't give them any less. I can, however, let anyone I know who does give them money know what's going on if they don't know already.

Earlier today, I sent an email about this to the one friend I have who still subscribes to WoW. He just emailed me back saying he and his wife have now canceled their subs. For reference, he's center-right politically and was gushing to me about new WoW lore as recently as a week ago. I never would've expected him to actually boycott a company in this situation, but he has, and I'm glad.

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bigsocrates

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@kyary: Individuals may choose to boycott a company for a time (or even permanently) but I can't think of a single example where this led to a serious issue for a company as large as Activision Blizzard. There have been plenty of companies that have gone through sex abuse scandals recently and while individuals, even prominent individuals, have been fired or retired, it's been rare for upper management to suffer unless they were directly involved (like Les Moonves) and we simply do not know whether anything substantive has changed. Certainly with Ubisoft there was some token reshuffling and we've heard that things are still pretty bad there.

Bad PR just doesn't lead to fundamental systematic change like what's needed. I can't think of a single example where it has at a large company. Big lawsuits and criminal charges can force change, but bad PR doesn't really change consumer behavior enough to matter.

You might have a friend or two who stops playing COD (or says they have stopped playing COD) but it's a drop in the bucket and it just does not change anything significant.

A few thousand super clued in people who care dropping your product doesn't matter when you have millions upon millions of customers.

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Efesell

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Yeah I hope the lawsuit goes somewhere and that there are more things like that for these situations. It's the only chance of applying actual tangible repercussions to any of these companies actions.

Because boycotts and personal principled stands against a company are largely things we do to make ourselves feel better about how we've been supporting a horrible company. It's not going to do any actual harm to them and furthermore more than a few of them are still going to playing Overwatch 2 or whatever on launch day.

Meanwhile by that time this story will just be something that people keep trying to surface on twitter that gets shouted down by a thousand different reply guys.

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elby

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@reap3r160: Yeah, the people who are responsible and everyone in the hierarchy above them need to face an independent criminal investigation. Someone or some people need to go to prison. Until this starts happening, this type of garbage will continue to run rampant in this and every other industry.

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tds418

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#33  Edited By tds418

I just don't understand how shit like this happens at a work place, ESPECIALLY such a large company! How does no one stop this shit!

Two words: wage slavery. People need wages to survive.That gives those offering jobs (employers/management) power and puts them in a position to abuse people, because they know some employees will put up with the abuse to keep the job.

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apewins

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@undeadpool: I've been boycotting Blizzard since the Hong Kong stuff, but I think such a thing is always a personal choice and if some people just want to play some games I think they should have the freedom to do that without being constantly preached about it. People generally don't respond well to being told what to do and that's just going to lead to users leaving the site and getting their game reviews elsewhere.

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LapsarianGiraff

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This is sickening, but not surprising. Remember guys, this kind of behavior isn't just Blizzard, it's everywhere. Blizzard just happens to be what's being reported right now.

Unfortunately, the only thing that's going to change this long-term is other devs speaking up in these situations. Furor on Twitter is easy for abusers and those who protect them in upper management to ignore.

Fingers crossed that something substantial comes out of the lawsuit, though.

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NameRedacted

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Video Game Workers Unite!

The time for workers to Unionize is LOOONG overdue.

Fuck Activision-Blizzard. Fuck Ubisoft.

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#37  Edited By Onemanarmyy

Morality is a personal book of rules. If you no longer feel good to listen to a piece of shit musician, or play games made under awful conditions, it's understandable to no longer want to support that. But Activision Blizzard is rediculously huge and has a mindboggling amount of players tied to their games. It's sadly not possible to really affect their bottom line with personal choices. The amount of people that consume general gaming news and let it affect their choices is incredibly small in the grand scheme of things. Best we can hope for is that the news surrounding these abusers & harassers generate so much negativity for the company that they have to cut ties with them and have to make sure that a similar situation doesn't occur again.

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Kunakai

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@undeadpool: "Jim Sterling is the only pundit I can think of who CONSISTENTLY brings up"

He made a video about why he only covers negative things. (the answer is profit)

Personally, I feel his desire to do nothing but recite the worst of the worst from the industry is kind of abusive in itself. (Not as bad as Ubisoft/ActiBlizz but certainly not virtuous).

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GODMADE1

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Man, i totally missed out on the world of warcraft era, but the act man, this dude from youtube has an awesome video about the decline of blizzard..... i have no idea how they messed up such and amazing business and company? still want to play starcraft all the way through, and part 2.

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Kunakai

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@godmade1: They got bought by a bigger company and leaked employees over time until the people who built it were mostly gone.

It's the same fate many developers absorbed by the corporate singularities of the industry have experienced.

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jaqen_hghar

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#41  Edited By jaqen_hghar

@kunakai: The fact that they "have" to talk about negative stuff because of the Youtube algorithm kinda doesn't matter when it turns out there is so much negative shit happening. I really appreciate that they are not forgetting the heinous stuff that is happening at many of the studios, from sexual harassments to predatory loot boxes. It's a shame really that James Stephanie Sterling is the only one I can think of that really goes heavy into this stuff. I hope they get the opportunity to make more fun videos in the future. They also seem a lot happier these days, despite all the assholes who don't like them talking about how capitalism is ruining everything. Or the fact that they came out as non-binary.

It also seems from some reporting that this is not solely because of Activision, that this seems to be how Blizzard have been for ages. Having Kotick as the leader of both certainly didn't help though.

As for boycotting; I really want to not give them any more money or time. But I know I probably will. One of the few games my brothers and I come back to now and then is still Diablo 3. We had planned to play through Diablo 2 Remake together, and as time goes on we get less and less time to play together. So the few hours a week we get to hang out online in a game is precious. I have tried to get them into PoE, but it didn't vibe with them. I also know that, realistically, losing three sales won't even be something they register, so boycotting feels useless. Hopefully this turns into actual consequences for the people doing these things, instead of the customary slap on the wrist.

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paulchinky50

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I´m not sure what else to do then to not support their products. I know a few lost sales won´t make a dent. But it makes me feel good about not supporting that gross behavior.

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Onemanarmyy

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#43  Edited By Onemanarmyy

I will say that i think it's a good thing that a fairly mainstream youtuber like Jim Sterling keeps bringing up these awful incidents to the viewers. Jim's audience might mainly go to videos for a quick catch up to a topic in gaming, and have a laugh at the same time, but if you keep hearing that a company is being run like a frathouse and employees get harassed, that will shape how you perceive a company.

There's definitly room for youtubers to go really indepth on these issues and speak intelligently at length about the awful practices, but the people that subscribe to such a youtube channel are already quite pre-disposed to be open to the message and make decisions based on that new information. If you want to see a larger shift in opinions, to the point where a company can't ignore their reputational damage any longer, you need to reach the people that would never seek this stuff out on their own.

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TheRealTurk

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@elby: I personally think you're banging your head against a wall trying to write to representatives. If you don't live there, they have zero reason to listen to you. Even if you did, at least half of them don't give a shit and the other half got elected by bitching about problems like this. If they did something to actually solve the problem, they wouldn't be able to bitch about it anymore and it would hurt their re-election chances.

A potentially sneaky better course is to buy some Activision stock, which gets you access to the annual shareholder meeting. Most companies set aside a part of the meeting for Q&A. It's usually a bunch of fluff, but it can sometimes be used to cause a ruckus if uncomfortable questions get asked. The last one had an activist shareholder consortium try to dock Kotick's pay. The motion failed, but it caused enough of a stir to get some mainstream media coverage, which is ultimately one of the few things that can move the needle on this stuff.

---

On the actual substance of this stuff, there's some very interesting things buried in Activision's last proxy statement given the nature of the complaint. They mention "diversity and inclusion" pretty prominently in several spots, including this statement:

Since 2016, the number of women in our game development leadership roles has more than doubled. The promotion rates for minorities and non-minorities are identical, and the promotion rate for women is slightly higher than the promotion rate for men.

They don't provide any metrics to back that statement up, but it's making some pretty specific claims that seems completely at odds with what California is accusing them of. There isn't a lot of wiggle room between those two positions.

As my law professor used to say, "Someone is making a statement not in conformity with the facts."

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bigsocrates

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@therealturk: That proxy statement is vague in important ways. How are they calculating "leadership roles" and what do "promotion rates" mean. The glass ceiling can mean that yeah you might get promoted up to a point but you're never going to make it to the true top of the company, and "leadership roles" can mean things like department subhead who may or may not have any actual power.

You can promote your female junior employees to somewhat less junior roles while keeping the glass ceiling in place and then crow about it in your PR materials while still running your company as a hive of misogyny. Plenty of companies do just that.

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Jaalmo

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#47  Edited By Jaalmo

Riot, Ubisoft and now Activision. This is clearly a widespread problem in this industry and others. Personally, I won't be buying any of Activision's products, but I have no doubts I'm unwittingly funding this shit behaviour elsewhere.

I think for a lone consumer, the decision to boycott is insignificant, but a prominent gaming site or influencer that has a lot of reach? This is something they should really think about because they can impact perception and sales. Ubisoft should have absolutely got fucked but most of the gaming media still covered their games like nothing happened - so how would anyone know about it and if the media doesn't care, they'll say why should I?

I know Jim Sterling is being mentioned a lot here and if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have known half of the stuff I do now. We need more people like Sterling.

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Efesell

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In the interest of politeness, since they've come up a few times in the thread now, a friendly reminder that Jim Sterling goes by they/them.

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Kyary

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As for boycotting; I really want to not give them any more money or time. But I know I probably will. [...] I also know that, realistically, losing three sales won't even be something they register, so boycotting feels useless.

I totally get this - and you're right, in the sense that you personally not buying a particular game won't cause Bobby Kotick to go bankrupt or whatever. But I just can't agree with the notion that you personally not buying something "does nothing", because clearly buying a game would bother you. So, in the sense that some injustice being committed by a company or its management feels bad even though it doesn't personally affect you, not buying that game should feel good even if it doesn't immediately result in the specific outcome you want.

For what it's worth, I also think the "everyone needs to be an aware and engaged on every issue all the time" culture to be a bit exhausting/impractical, and so I wouldn't really fault anyone for choosing some subset of things they decide aren't worth their time or energy (in this case, buying Diablo)