Yesterday was an important day in the ongoing Activision Blizzard story. Hundreds of Ubisoft employees expressed their solidarity with those affected within Activision Blizzard. Ubisoft devs also called for structural changes at their company and across the industry. Back at Activision Blizzard, employees voiced their frustration with Bobby Kotick’s message and staged a walkout, both offline and online.
July 28. Ubisoft devs support Activision Blizzard protesters, demand accountability within Ubisoft
Around 500 Ubisoft employees, both current and former, signed an open letter ahead of the Activision Blizzard walkout. The signatories expressed their support for their fellow devs at Activision Blizzard and criticized how Ubisoft handled its own workplace culture abuses.
“We hear you and want to loudly declare our solidarity with you,” the letter says to the Activision Blizzard devs. “Over the past week, the games industry has once again been rocked by revelations that have long been known by too many of us. Revelations that a year ago many were hearing about Ubisoft. It is clear, from the frequency of these reports, that there is a widespread and deeply ingrained culture of abusive behaviour within the industry. It should no longer be a surprise to anyone: employees, executives, journalists, or fans that these heinous acts are going on. It is time to stop being shocked. We must demand real steps be taken to prevent them. Those responsible must be held accountable for their actions.”
The letter then goes on to address the management of Ubisoft. The employees acknowledge that the executive team has fired the most public offenders within Ubisoft since “the ﬁrst revelations of systemic discrimination, harassment and bullying” at the company. However, the letter claims that the management team “let the rest either resign or worse, promoted them, moved them from studio to studio, team to team, giving them second chance after second chance with no repercussions.”
The Ubisoft devs are now calling for the removal of all known offenders from the company “along with those who were complicit in or willfully ignorant of the actions of others.” The signatories also demand “real, fundamental changes, within Ubisoft, within ActivisionBlizzard, and across the industry.”
“To this end, we propose that ActivisionBlizzard, Ubisoft and other industry-leading publishers and developers collaborate and agree to a set of rules and processes for handling reports of these offences. This collaboration must heavily involve employees in non-management positions and union representatives.”
July 28. The Walkout
Later that day, hundreds of Blizzard employees gathered outside the company’s main campus in Irvine, California to protest the company’s response to sexual harassment and discrimination allegations.
According to The Verge, “employees stood shoulder to shoulder across two city blocks, holding signs that read “send the frat boys back to school” and “women in the video game industry deserve a safe place to work.”
Prior to the walkout, the protesters released a statement in response to the message from Bobby Kotick. They criticized Kotick’s message as failing “to address critical elements at the heart of employee concerns.” Specifically, the management ignored the following demands:
- The end of forced arbitration for all employees.
- Worker participation in oversight of hiring and promotion policies.
- The need for greater pay transparency to ensure equality.
- Employee selection of a third party to audit HR and other company processes.
Until these demands are met, the protesters said, they “will not return to silence.” They also promised that the walkout will not be “a one-time event.” Instead, they hope for it to herald “the beginning of an enduring movement in favor of better labor conditions for all employees, especially women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.”
“We will be the change,” the message concludes.
As the in-person walkout took place in Irvine, hundreds of sympathetic devs within and outside Activision Blizzard took to social media to express their solidarity during the virtual #ActiBlizzWalkout. Those supporting the protest included co-founder and former Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime, Blizzard associate producer Megan Embree, Bungie senior concept artist Ben Nicholas, and many others.