Embattled game developer Blizzard (one-half of Activision-Blizzard,
The U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has subpoenaed Activision-Blizzard for documents as far back as 2019, according to the Wall Street Journal's report. Gaming industry veteran and current Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is reportedly a key figure in the SEC's investigation, with the government agency directly requesting copies of Kotick's communications with other members of ATVI's c-suite over allegations of sexual assault and discrimination within the company.
The focus of the SEC's investigation is to discern if the company had adequately disclosed allegations of harassment, gender-based pay gaps and if the company should have been required to disclose this information to shareholders, as well as other investigators.
The litany of litigation and probes facing Blizzard comes from years of mismanagement and a worrying corporate culture that promulgated gender-based discrimination and turned a blind eye to the widespread harassment within the developer's offices. After the recent lawsuit filed by the Communications Workers of America, allegations of intimidation to prevent employees from exercising their right to organize surfaced as well.
As I wrote back in July, the scandal facing Activision-Blizzard is much more severe than the company may realize. The company's troubling culture is only a fraction of the many issues that the ongoing litigation and probes have unveiled.
The nature of ATVI's threat is best illustrated by the mass exodus of "World of Warcraft" players months prior. Mainly driven by antipathy towards increasingly poorly received content releases and growing distrust in the firm amid the growing allegations against it, millions of users of the pioneering MMORPG left for competing "Final Fantasy XIV". With even longtime players of Blizzard's flagship game no longer willing to tolerate the company's behavior and development choices, even when the firm's legal issues finally clear, it will likely leave this scandal quite the shell of its former self.