PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan doesn’t believe that Activision Blizzard is “properly address[ing] the situation” regarding yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article alleging that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick not only knew about and hid sexual misconduct at the company, but has also mistreated women and employees himself.
Ryan’s statement comes via an email to PlayStation employees, reviewed and verified by Bloomberg, which said that the Wall Street Journal report left the leadership “disheartened and frankly stunned,” and he and his leadership team at PlayStation believe that Activision “has not done enough to address a deep-seated culture of discrimination and harassment.”
In the email, Ryan also revealed that they had “outreached to Activision immediately after the article was published to express our deep concern and to ask how they plan to address the claims made in the article.”
“We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation,” Ryan’s email said.
Beginning early in the PlayStation 4 era, PlayStation and Activision have retained a close working partnership, with PlayStation often getting console-exclusive bonuses for Activision games—like extra modes, cosmetic packs, XP boosts, and marketing preference. It’s unclear how Ryan and the rest of PlayStation leadership are planning to address the ongoing situation with Activision Blizzard, which was made rather public earlier this year when California filed a lawsuit alleging a discriminatory and unsafe workplace.
In the months since the lawsuit, Activision Blizzard has attempted to drive attention to its efforts to fix the culture issues at company, but yesterday’s Wall Street Journal report paints a damning picture of leadership at the publisher being far more aware and complicit than they are letting on, even going as far as to underpay Jennifer Oneal, the female half of the Blizzard co-leadership team who had come in with Mike Ybarra to replace J. Allen Brack following the publicization of the ongoing issues at the company. Oneal resigned just three months after her promotion (and was only offered an equal contract after her resignation).
Following the Wall Street Journal report, the Activision Blizzard board of directors (on which Bobby Kotick himself sits, by the way) backed Kotick, saying they believe that Activision Blizzard can make strides towards change under his leadership. A small percentage of investors have now called for Kotick’s resignation, along with a contingent of employees at Activision Blizzard, who walked out yesterday following the release of the report. Now with PlayStation leadership critical of how Activision Blizzard is handling the reports and allegations, additional pressure is mounting for the publisher to take more drastic action as a direct response.
Whether Ryan’s words will turn into actions, and how that will affect PlayStation and Activision Blizzard’s working relationship, remains to be seen at this time.