A new report reveals that Activision’s merger with Blizzard only made the workplace more toxic than it already was by emboldening “rockstar” attitudes. Activision-Blizzard is currently engrossed in a lawsuit against California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The suit claims that the game publisher and developer has created a “frat boy culture” that heavily discriminates and objectifies women in the company, specifically in the Blizzard portion of the company.
Blizzard and Activision officially merged in 2008, but Blizzard’s “frat culture” workplace was already there before the merger. World of Warcraft’s success led its employees to develop a “rockstar” mentality. According to a new report by Bloomberg, male employees bought expensive new cars, drank more prevalently during work, and developed unchecked egos. Women, who men in the Blizzard offices significantly outnumber, suffered through the increasingly toxic environment. Their reasoning to put up with the abuse was that upper management perpetuated the culture and overlooked complaints by the female workers.
Former female employees at Blizzard reported multiple occasions when co-workers, including executives, would grope or harass women at events or after-work parties. The blame rests on the culture of drunk partying during work hours and the complete negligence of HR to reprimand any potentially guilty parties. Executives at Blizzard also have a trend of courting or sleeping with lower-level female employees. Executives like the now-ousted former president, J. Allen Brack, are among those who did this.
Because of so few women, those within the company became competitive to stand out among the male-skewed workplace. Worse yet, women felt compelled to do anything to keep the job at Blizzard despite all of the problems they experienced or witnessed. This competitiveness was further pushed by Activision’s presence, which enforced more stressful policies. With fewer resources to divert to departments and budget cuts looming overhead, former workers say that Activision’s involvement is partly to blame for Blizzard’s first bad game. The added pressure also contributed to “exhaustion, anxiety, depression and more” for the employees.
Suffice to say, Blizzard’s problems of misogyny and discrimination have existed almost from the beginning, thanks in part to that rockstar mentality. Although the reports of its office culture began after it found success, the company did little to mature since its founding in 1991. A maturity that could have prevented the heinous acts reported in the lawsuit from transpiring at all.