PlayStation head Jim Ryan criticizes Activision Blizzard response to sexual harassment scandal

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·Contributing Writer
·2-min read
A man carrying a sign accusing Activision Blizzard CEO Robert A. Kotick of pedophilia is ordered by protest organizers to leave the area as employees of the video game holding company, Activision Blizzard, hold a walkout and protest rally to denounce the companys response to a California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit and to call for changes in conditions for women and other marginalized groups, in Irvine, California, on July 28, 2021. (Photo by DAVID MCNEW / AFP) (Photo by DAVID MCNEW/AFP via Getty Images)
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It turns out Blizzard employees weren’t the only ones to express frustration with their company and CEO Bobby Kotick after The Wall Street Journal published an explosive report on the ongoing sexual harassment scandal at the publisher. In an email obtained by Bloomberg, Sony Interactive CEO Jim Ryan critiqued Activision’s response to the article. Ryan linked Sony employees to the report, and said he was “disheartened and frankly stunned to read” The Journal’s findings.

“We 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,” Ryan says in the message. “We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation.”

As the company that makes the PlayStation 4 and PS5, Sony is one of Activision’s most important partners. Their close relationship is highlighted by the fact Sony has first dibs on some Call of Duty content. The fact Ryan’s email leaked shouldn’t come as a surprise given that it was an all-hands message.

Broadly, The Wall Street Journal report claims Kotick was not only aware of many of the allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment at the company, but that he may have also intervened to protect some of its worst offenders, and that he mistreated women himself. In a statement to Engadget, a spokesperson for the publisher said the article presents a “misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO.” Shortly after it started circulating widely on social media, Blizzard employees announced they would stage a walkout. Hours later, Activision Blizzard’s board of directors issued a statement expressing its continued support of Kotick’s leadership. 

According to a report published by Game Developer, Activision Blizzard also defended Kotick during an all-hands meeting the company hosted after The Wall Street Journal published its report. When asked if its new zero-tolerance policy would apply to the executive, the company told employees it did not "have evidence" of the claims against Kotick due to the fact they relate to an incident that happened a decade ago.  

Update 3:49PM ET: Added information from Game Developer.   

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