Phil Spencer dodges Bobby Kotick question after Activision scandal
As the light shines on Microsoft ahead of its potential acquisition of Activision Blizzard, it seems it's finally time for Phil Spencer to bite the bullet and reveal what he plans to do with the gaming conglomerate's recent scandals. However, the Xbox boss isn't ready to talk shop just yet.
While taking the reins to some of the biggest franchises like Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and (obviously) Call of Duty is a licence to print money, it comes as something of a poison chalice. The games are money-makers for Activision Blizzard, but you also inherit the company's questionable reputation.
Phil Spencer dodges Bobby Kotick questioning
Spencer has been busy on the interview circuit, what with the massive Xbox Games Showcase and getting the marketing machine rumbling for the release of Starfield later this year. It's not all fluffy questions about "What's your favourite CoD?" with some hard questions about the future of Xbox and its acquisitions.
Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in allegations of sexual harassment, workplace bullying, and racism, with the timeline exploding when the California Department of Fair Employment sued the gaming giant in July 2021. Since then, there have been more accusations while ABK CEO Bobby Kotick has remained in place.
Following the Xbox Showcase, Bloomberg's Cecilia D'Anastasio asked Spencer about Kotick's recent comments to Variety, saying that he believes Activision Blizzard has done nothing wrong. Whether he was diverting the subject or not, Spencer claims he hasn't read the piece. Well, now could be the time.
Bobby Kotick denies Activision Blizzard wrongdoing
Spencer's seeming aversion to the issue comes in the wake of Kotick doubling down on his stance. Blaming "outside sources," the media, and "a very aggressive labor movement," Kotick maintains that he wouldn't be where he is today if there was any truth to the allegations made against Activision Blizzard.
While shareholders have voted to keep Kotick in place, there are still rumblings of discontent in the ranks. Even though Kotick says there was no wrongdoing, Activision settled one case for $35 million and was deemed to have undertaken "illegal" practices with its complaints procedures by the SEC.
Spencer's silence comes after Activision added a line in its proposed sale contract last year, stating that neither side had discussed Kotick's future. There were whispers of a golden parachute, but for the time being, the incumbent CEO looks like he's standing firm. Either way, it's a question for a different day for Mr. Spencer.