After becoming the target of a major state investigation into discriminatory workplace practices and sexual harassment this summer, the implications for gaming behemoth Activision Blizzard are increasing. The Securities and Exchange Commission has been ratcheting up enforcement operations against internet companies in recent months, and Activision Blizzard has confirmed that it is the subject of a federal probe.
The SEC has subpoenaed Activision Blizzard and a number of key officials, including CEO Bobby Kotick, according to the Wall Street Journal. In a statement to investors on Tuesday, Activision Blizzard confirmed the SEC investigation, saying it “continues to productively engage with regulators,” including the SEC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the SEC requested records from Activision, including “minutes from Activision board meetings since 2019, personnel files of six former employees, and separation agreements the business has signed with staffers this year.” The agency is also looking for any recordings of Kotick and other officials discussing sexual harassment and discrimination accusations at the corporation, according to the paper.
Activision Blizzard was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in July on charges that company produced a hostile “frat house” atmosphere where gender-based harassment and discrimination were commonplace.
A handful of employees organized a high-profile walkout in protest to the company’s leaders’ heated response, dismissing the case as the conduct of “unaccountable state bureaucrats.” The demonstration gathered support from all corners of the gaming community and brought additional attention to the supposedly hostile working environment that many Blizzard employees have endured for years.
The Call of Duty franchise, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Starcraft are just a few of the games published by Activision Blizzard. The rush of regulatory attention in charges of a poisonous, hostile work environment at Activision Blizzard might have far-reaching ramifications for workplace culture not just at the business, but for the whole gaming industry.