Skip to main content

Activision never had "systemic issue with harassment", says CEO Bobby Kotick

Also claims he's not anti-union.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has stated the company has never had a "systemic issue with harassment" in a new interview with Variety.

His comments are in response to a lawsuit against the company by the State of California in 2021, claiming it had a "frat boy" culture. In the years since, a number of sexual harassment lawsuits have been filed and Kotick himself has been accused of turning a blind eye.

"We've had every possible form of investigation done. And we did not have a systemic issue with harassment - ever. We didn't have any of what were mischaracterisations reported in the media," Kotick told Variety. "But what we did have was a very aggressive labour movement working hard to try and destabilise the company."

Newscast: Can Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal appeal succeed?Watch on YouTube

Indeed, Kotick blamed "outside forces" for the poor reputation of Activision. He added: "I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you if any of what you read in the inflammatory narrative was truthful."

These comments are in-line with a report from Activision Blizzard itself, published last summer, which claimed there is "no widespread harassment, or systemic harassment" at the company.

Despite this, Kotick has also claimed he is not anti-union.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) last year assisted QA testers at Activision studio Raven Software with unionising. Earlier in 2023, the CWA filed charges against Activision for violating several workplace laws in relation to firing two QA testers.

"I am not like other CEOs that are anti-union," said Kotick. "I'm the only Fortune 500 CEO who's a member of a union. If we have employees who want a union to represent them, and they believe that that union is going to be able to provide them with opportunities and enhancements to their work experience, I'm all for it. I have a mother who was a teacher. I have no aversion to a union. What I do have an aversion to is a union that doesn't play by the rules."

Kotick is a member of the SAG-AFTRA actor's union after being cast in a minor role in 2011 baseball drama Moneyball.

Kotick stated the negativity he's received has been antisemitic.

"The hatred has turned into a lot of antisemitism," Kotick said. "When you look at images of me on the internet, there are these antisemitic undertones. My kids have gotten death threats."

Kotick has also praised Microsoft as "by far the best place for us to be", following its bid to take over Activision Blizzard for $68.7bn.

"I like the company," he added. "I like the culture. I'm really scared about the economy - compensation for talent has been ratcheting up in ways that are complex for us to deal with. So this deal made a lot of sense."

That said, he believes the company can still be successful without Microsoft.

"We have a great company. We have an enormous amount of momentum, and we have an extraordinary balance sheet," said Kotick.

"And we can continue to be successful alone like we have been for the last 30 years. But it'll be great if the deal goes through because I think it's the right thing for our industry."

Microsoft's takeover of Activision Blizzard was recently approved by the EU, but blocked by the UK's CMA.

Read this next