World of Better Employment: Activision Blizzard’s Legal Woes


Whitney Currie, Staff Writer

Final Fantasy XIV Online players call them refugees. 

World of Warcraft players leaving the game often find themselves looking for a new online home. California’s filing of a discrimination and sexual harassment suit against video game company Activision Blizzard left some players feeling unable to continue with the game. These players vote with their time, money, and support, showing the company how unacceptable they find California’s allegations. Though the courts have yet to hear opening statements, the public reaction commenced last July. 

Longtime video game maker Activision merged with Blizzard Entertainment in 2008 to form Activision Blizzard, acquiring King in 2015. Collectively, the company produced such well known titles as Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and Overwatch. According to the court filing, the company has about 9,500 employees and may have several million players worldwide. Activision Blizzard remains based in Santa Monica, California.  

California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filing a Civil Rights and Equal Pay Act complaint against the company, after a two-year investigation, came as a shock to the public. Activision Blizzard’s woes seem endless. With the court date still unknown and evidence still locked away, most of the publicly available information stems from either the court filings themselves or social media postings. Certainly, no workplace should tolerate the sort of behavior alleged in the filing documents. Claims of “cube crawls” where male employees imbibe alcohol then “crawl” their way through cubicles and employees arriving to work obviously suffering hangovers paint a picture of an inhospitable work environment. Social media influencer and dedicated World of Warcraft player Asmongold noted, “Based off the 100 people-ish that have come forward current and former employees talking about their bad experiences at Blizzard, I am very very trending toward believing these things are true, although I’m sure there are some exaggerations here and there.” The current employees of the company already staged a walkout in late July to demand better treatment. 

 While the California courts attempt to sort out exactly what happened and to whom, the public wrestles with its own responsibility. In a capitalist society, market corrections only happen when the public decides a company’s behavior is unacceptable. In effect, those players who leave games like World of Warcraft vote with their dollars. They tell Activision Blizzard that no, sex discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated in their community. Some of these players have been with Activision Blizzard for several years, and this decision must have been painful. 

Yet, one cannot help but applaud their dedication to their morals. These individuals give up a game in which they invested time, money, and their support because the company that produces the game engaged in reprehensible behavior, as far as they know. Free markets should work this way. The public should, in effect, vote with their resources to demand changes in business behavior. If we, as a society, want better workplaces, then we need to follow suit. Apathy and selfishness will not encourage workplace change; only action will.