With the bar already at the bottom of the ocean, games production company Activision Blizzard still managed to disappoint everyone with allegations of more labor malpractice. After much controversy earlier this year, the company has tried its best to put on the veneer of improvement while getting sued into oblivion. It has failed miserably.
What is the simplest way to solve excessive labor violations in your company? Activision Blizzard has the answer: stop people from complaining about it. Isn’t that a labor violation? Yes.
Earlier in 2021, Activision Blizzard found itself under fire for many allegations of worker abuse and workplace sexism. The reputation of the games company burned to the ground, as highly regarded names in the industry were unveiled as abusive employers and predators. More and more ex-employees came out about their experiences working in the company, and the stories somehow got worse and worse.
Here’s a video explaining more specifics of the original August lawsuit.
Activision Blizzard had a reputation as the “gamer’s games company”— one that rebelled against other behemoths in the industry. The facade quickly went down the drain. Now, it’s a trophy case full of the most egregious examples of workplace harassment in the industry.
So, after the smoke cleared, everybody wondered how the company would come back from this. Or, if it even could.
A month later, more lawsuits came to light of Blizzard working to silence employees complaining about labor violations. While the behavior is in line with past actions, it makes a lot of the company’s performative apologetics ring excessively hollow.
But don’t worry! Blizzard has updated World of Warcraft background paintings to no longer show blurry cleavage. The vanilla update to the game means that sexism in the industry is over. Naturally, the internet had a field day with tearing the decision apart. More lawsuit news came out almost immediately hand-in-hand with the update.
Activision Blizzard produces many mainstream game franchises such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty and Overwatch. A powerful hallmark of the games industry, it attracts starry-eyed prospective workers to its ranks. However, the industry has yet to unionize. Expectations to conform to “crunch-culture” make for toxic and harsh work environments.
Now, with Overwatch 2 news continuously getting pushed to the forefront of Blizzard’s marketing, it seems like the company wants to sweep everything under the rug. But, it seems like the broader games community wants nothing to do with Activision’s performative activism.
The newness of the games industry and the fan-culture that drives its workforce, has built a mirage of games jobs as “dream jobs.” The notion has kept workers silent. The fear of seeming entitled or being blacklisted in the industry keeps people from speaking out. However, the illusion is starting to fall apart.
More and more people have access to the industry , lowering the pedestal of what games’ work even means.
Now, companies like Activision Blizzard can’t successfully run their workforces on fear without public backlash anymore. But they try anyways, to unsurprising results.