Activision Blizzard King workers form coalition, send joint letter to CEO

Activision Blizzard

The ABK Workers Alliance criticizes Activision Blizzard’s choice of law firm

Employees of various Activision Blizzard studios have formed a coalition, called the ABK Workers Alliance, and filed a joint letter to CEO Bobby Kotick and leadership. In it, the group calls for the leadership team to address their response to the lawsuit, acknowledge the reality of working conditions at the company, and commit to “meaningful change.”

In a letter provided to IGN, employees from numerous Activision Blizzard studios—including King, Activision, Blizzard, Beenox, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games, Raven Software, and Vicarious Visions—express their stance following last week’s walkout.

The walkout, alongside this and another letter filed by Activision Blizzard employees, all came in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The lawsuit alleges a toxic work culture at the company, including reports of discrimination and sexual harassment. The initial response from Activision Blizzard was not well-received, and this morning the company announced the departure of Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, ahead of this afternoon’s earnings call.

Today’s letter highlights Activision Blizzard leadership’s response to the demands put forward by employees, including an end to forced arbitration, the adoption of inclusive recruitment and hiring practices, increases in pay transparency through compensation metrics, and an audit of Activision Blizzard King policies and practices, performed by a neutral third party selected by an employee-led Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion task force.

To that last point, Activision Blizzard hired WilmerHale to conduct an internal review. The ABK Workers Alliance writes that it rejects that selection due to the firm’s pre-existing relationships with Activision Blizzard and its executives, creating what it calls an “unacceptable conflict of interest.” The alliance also cites several past instances of WilmerHale discouraging collective action.

The letter calls on Activision Blizzard leadership to “do better,” by fully addressing the list of demands. It also outlines actions the coalition itself is taking, including building a worker-to-worker mentorship program, hosting open listening sessions, and facilitating monthly community meetings.

“We are doing what we can, and we call on you to do what we cannot,” the letter concludes. According to IGN, Activision Blizzard leadership has received the letter and is currently reviewing it. You can find the full text in IGN’s report, published with the ABK Workers Alliance’s permission, here.

Eric Van Allen