Activision Blizzard sees new troubles as LEGO delays Overwatch 2 set

The year has just started and already, Activision and Blizzard have been in the headlines several times. A few good, mostly bad, and one that is a bit confusing, to be honest. It does appear the entertainment industry and financial institutes are beginning to take notice. How this will affect Activision Blizzard’s bottom line is still an unanswered question.

LEGO takes a step back

We start off with probably the biggest news this week – LEGO announced it is rethinking its partnerships with Activision Blizzard. A new building set featuring Overwatch 2 designs and characters launch date was in February. But LEGO is delaying the battle royale video game inspired set is delay until further notice, according to The Brick Fan.

“We are currently reviewing our partnership with Activision Blizzard, given concerns about the progress being made to address continuing allegations regarding workplace culture, especially the treatment of female colleagues and creating a diverse and inclusive environment,” a spokesperson told the fan site. It makes sense considering LEGO develops family-friendly building sets. To be associated with a company currently mired in misconduct lawsuits isn’t a good look for anybody.

lego overwatch 2 activision blizzard

Phil Spencer wishy-washy response leaves us out to dry

Speaking of not a good look, Phil Spencer has kinda put his foot in it. The CEO of Xbox found himself in the hot seat in an interview with The New York Times this week. When asked about their relationship with Activision Blizzard, Spencer said Xbox has “changed how we do certain things with them, and they’re aware of that.” However, he wouldn’t further elaborate what that meant, instead saying that Xbox’s reputation isn’t spotless. This refers specifically to the 2016 Game Developers Conference incident involving a party and strippers.

Hence, he doesn’t want to engage in “virtue shaming.” Of course, we have been following the details of the Activision Blizzard lawsuits. And while neither is a great example of treating women as humans, there is some difference between hiring “female performers,” and the extremes Activision Blizzard is accused of.

Phil Spencer
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer

The interview further attempted to clarify how, as CEO, Spencer could justify working with Activision especially in light of Bobby Kotick’s prior knowledge of the allegations and attempted cover-up. His answer is technically correct, but far from reassuring. “It’s a cultural effort of how do you build […] trust so people feel like when they whistle blow, when they raise their hand about topics that are going on, that they won’t face repercussions. Rather, they’ll see action,” he said.

“I would say in terms of individuals that are in leadership positions at other companies, it’s not obviously our position to judge who the CEOs are,” he continued. “And that’s the thing that we continue to focus on, is to try to grow. And whether that’s us sharing, again, the experiences that we have with other partners, if we can help them on their own journey or on the things that happen in our own teams.”

Well, ok then.

Loads of lawsuits

On the lawsuits front, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) may have lost its initial request to stop the $18 million settlement between Activision Blizzard and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from September 2021. But the DFEH isn’t backing down. On Jan. 7, 2022, they filed an appeal “for the purpose of ‘protecting the interests of California and its workers.’”

Of particular concern is the “voluntary claims process that the consent decree (as part of the settlement) would establish and argues that the consent decree would release California state law claims and allows, or potentially even requires, Defendants (Activision Blizzard) to destroy evidence relevant to DFEH’s state court case.” The possibility of a precedence set if the appeal should fail is unimaginable in abuse cases perpetrated by companies moving forward.

Ironically, Activision Blizzard asked a federal California court to toss out the shareholders suit on Tuesday. This suit directly deals with the potential cover-ups while the DFEH were conducting their investigations. The company claims, “these employment and workplace claims have nothing to do with securities fraud.”

No word yet on a decision from the court.

Activision Blizzard leaves Raven strikers in the dark

And finally, we have the Raven Software strike which has been going on for almost a month now. Back in early December, Activision Blizzard laid off at least a dozen of Quality Assurance contractors with very little warning. In turn, permanent employees of Raven Software, in a show of solidarity, have stopped working until Activision meets their demands.

On January 6, 2022, Activision Blizzard, issued a response to a statement made by ABetterABK that called the company out for its lack of discussion. Activision’s response contains the same broiler plate language we have read since July: the company “is deeply committed to the wellbeing of all of our teams, including our QA workforce.”

Supposedly, there is now ongoing talks between Raven Software leadership and QA employees. However, it is now apparent that anything Activision says should be taken with a whole mountain of salt. And this may extend to the ABK as well. According to tweets from one source, Raven’s leadership has not communicated with QA testers. Apparently, they had to hear about the “talks” from the media!

So, there you have it, folks. We are only halfway through January, but good freaking moly, it’s been a ride already. Who knows what the rest of the month, and year will bring?

Alicia Graves

A bit nerdy, a bit punk rock princess, and a whole lot of mom, I'm constantly in motion. I have an enthusiasm for gaming and the cultural complexities of entertainment, both past and present. I don’t believe in limiting myself to one kind of genre in books, comics, manga, anime, music or movies. I prefer to seek out hidden gems in panned pieces, uniqueness in the mundane and new outlooks on nuances.
Back to top button