A new report has revealed multiple details about allegations of sexual misconduct at Activision Blizzard’s studios.
Content Warning: This story will discuss potentially distressing issues regarding sexual violence.
This comes from the Wall Street Journal (Paywall) (opens in new tab), which reveals that Treyarch co-studio head Dan Bunting had been accused of sexually harassing an employee at a party in 2017. The report alleges that an internal investigation took place in 2019, and it was recommended that he was fired, only for Activision CEO Bobby Kotick to intervene, with an external investigation taking place in 2020.
The report then quotes an Activision spokeswoman, who says: “After considering potential actions in light of that [external] investigation, the company elected not to terminate Mr. Bunting, but instead to impose other disciplinary measures.” The report claims that “Mr. Bunting left the company after the Journal asked about the incident”, which has since been verified by Polygon (opens in new tab). Mr. Bunting is yet to publicly comment on the allegations, and we will update this story if he does.
The report goes on to detail other accounts of sexual misconduct across the company, including a Sledgehammer supervisor who is claimed to have raped an employee in 2016 and 2017 after she was “pressured to consume too much alcohol in the office and at work events”, with the employee’s lawyer informing Activision Blizzard of the allegation in 2018. The report states that an “Activision spokeswoman said the company immediately investigated the two assault reports after executives received the 2018 email, and fired Mr. Panameno two months later.”
There are also allegations made against Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, which claims that in 2006 he harassed a female assistant by threatening to have her killed. The article claims he settled with the assistant out of court and an Activision Blizzard spokeswoman says in the article: “Mr. Kotick quickly apologized 16 years ago for the obviously hyperbolic and inappropriate voice mail, and he deeply regrets the exaggeration and tone in his voice mail to this day.”
In response to the article, Activision Blizzard (opens in new tab) published a statement that reads: “We are disappointed in the Wall Street Journal’s report, which presents a misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO. Instances of sexual misconduct that were brought to his attention were acted upon. The WSJ ignores important changes underway to make this the industry’s most welcoming and inclusive workplace and it fails to account for the efforts of thousands of employees who work hard every day to live up to their – and our – values. A separate statement from Kotick was also published on the Call of Duty publisher’s website (opens in new tab).
Following Activision Blizzard’s statement, ABetterABK – a worker’s alliance at the company – is planning to stage a walkout today. The group issued a statement on Twitter, in which they also call for Bobby Kotick to be replaced as CEO.
We have instituted our own Zero Tolerance Policy. We will not be silenced until Bobby Kotick has been replaced as CEO, and continue to hold our original demand for Third-Party review by an employee-chosen source. We are staging a Walkout today. We welcome you to join us.November 16, 2021
For everything we know about the events that lead up to this new report, check out our reporting on the Activision Blizzard lawsuit.