We continue to share new details about the Activision Blizzard scandal. Yesterday, hundreds of employees went on strike and once again voiced their demands to the management and personally to Bobby Kotick. Meanwhile, Ubisoft employees supported their colleagues and reminded them of similar problems within their company.

Employees’ response to Bobby Kotick’s letter

On the eve of the strike, the CEO of Activision Blizzard addressed the company’s employees in a letter. He acknowledged that the initial comments of the management were tactless towards the victims, and promised to take decisive measures to create a safe working environment.

A few hours before the protest began, Activision Blizzard employees responded to the Cat’s statement. They were pleased that their actions forced the company to change its initially tactless tone and recognize the seriousness of the problem.

However, the employees noted that the Cat did not say anything about critical claims. In particular, the letter from the CEO of Activision Blizzard did not mention the involvement of independent experts to evaluate the work of the HR department and the exclusion of arbitration clauses from employment contracts.

Arbitration clauses are a separate agreement in the contract that defines the procedure for resolving possible disputes between employees and the company. However, Activision Blizzard employees believe that they are now compiled in such a way as to protect potential rapists. In their opinion, the agreement signed by employees does not allow victims to speak out about problems and hope for damages.

In the new appeal, the employees stated that the strike is not a one—time action that the management will be able to ignore. They intend to show the company the seriousness of their intentions and make it pay attention to all their requirements.

How was the employee strike?

The protest action began on July 28 at 20:00 Moscow time. The company’s employees gathered at Blizzard’s main campus in Irvine.

The demonstration stretched for two blocks. The protesters held numerous posters in their hands. “Women in the gaming industry deserve safety in the workplace,” read the inscription on one of them.

In total, hundreds of Blizzard employees took part in the action, although the exact number of demonstrators is unknown. They supported the women and demanded that the company’s management fulfill the voiced requirements and make changes as soon as possible.

During the strike, the protesters did not say about their future plans. However, they are not going to stop. “We are creating this movement based on events that have been happening in the gaming industry for decades. It is important to remember why we put forward these demands, and not forget about our goal,” one of the demonstrators said in a comment for The Verge.

Activision Blizzard employees were actively supported on social networks. The hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout hit the top spot on American Twitter.

One user noted: “You can support the strike by not launching the company’s games today.”

Virtual promotions were also held in World of Warcraft. On several servers, players gathered in pre-arranged places and simultaneously quit the game in protest.

Indoor men’s Club in a hotel room at BlizzCon

Kotaku has gained access to several photos and correspondence related to the former creative director of World of Warcraft Alex Afrasiabi. You can read more about his work in the company here.

The lawsuit described numerous cases of harassment by Afrasiabi. He allegedly molested female employees, kissed them and offered to marry him. Many of these incidents took place at the annual BlizzCon festival.

In the Kotaku investigation, special attention is paid to the so-called “Cosby number” (he was also mentioned in the lawsuit). This is a hotel room that Afrasiabi and his colleagues named after the famous comedian Bill Cosby. In 2018, he was sentenced to prison for sexual crimes and was released last June.

In one of the photos from 2013, former and current Blizzard employees pose in the same room, holding a portrait of Cosby. In this room they drank and invited girls there.

A screenshot from the Blizzard employee chat was also published in the Kotaku material. In it, they discussed parties at BlizzCon. In addition to Afrasiabi, Blizzard’s leading game designer Cory Stockton and former developer Greg Street, who is now working on a new MMO at Riot Games, were present in the chat.

In a comment to Kotaku, an Activision Blizzard representative noted that last year the events that took place in the Cosby room became the subject of an internal investigation. The company also confirmed that Afrasiabi was fired as a result for “mistreatment of employees.” Although before that, the reason for his departure from Blizzard was not publicly disclosed.

Yesterday, the World of Warcraft team also promised to remove all inappropriate content from the game. Probably, we are talking, among other things, about numerous references to Afrasiabi. The popular MMO has characters and items named after him.

Support from Ubisoft employees

About 500 former and current employees from 32 Ubisoft offices signed a letter in support of their colleagues from Activision Blizzard. The appeal is addressed to the management of the French publisher and personally to the CEO Yves Guillemot.

“These monstrous acts should no longer surprise anyone — neither employees, nor managers, nor journalists, nor fans. It’s time to stop experiencing shock. We must demand real steps to prevent such situations. The perpetrators must be held accountable,” the letter says, the text of which was obtained by Axios.

Ubisoft employees criticized their management for actions related to last year’s harassment scandal. According to the employees, the management took insufficient measures to change the situation — many of the perpetrators were simply transferred to other offices and given a second chance.

Recall that as a result of last year’s accusations against Ubisoft, Yves Guillemot promised to eradicate harassment in the workplace and create a safer environment. Some top managers were dismissed from the company. However, in May, many employees noted that almost nothing had changed for the better at Ubisoft.

Now employees are demanding that major game publishers work together to develop a list of rules of conduct in the workplace and take the necessary measures to combat harassment. In response to the letter, a Ubisoft representative stated that the company takes this problem seriously and continues to work on creating a safe working environment.