Activision Blizzard has been the subject of scrutiny for several years now, due to its widely criticized “Boys’ Club” corporate culture of sleazy shenanigans. And now, late on a Friday evening just before the holiday season begins in earnest, The Wall Street Journal reports the embattled gaming company will pay $50 million to settle a 2021 gender discrimination and harassment lawsuit—the same lawsuit that seemingly prompted Microsoft’s landmark $69 billion acquisition of the Call of Duty and Overwatch publisher that was finally greenlit in October after an 18-month legal battle.
California’s Civil Rights Department sued Activision back in 2021, claiming company leadership willfully ignored employee complaints regarding pay disparity, gender- and sexuality-based harassment, and discrimination.
Activision has repeatedly denied these charges. Company representatives have also claimed that an internal investigation by its board of directors concluded that the allegations against the company were without merit. When the Microsoft acquisition closed earlier this year, longtime Activision CEO Bobby Kotick was “asked” to stay for another two months, through the end of 2023.
According to the Journal, which broke the story regarding the settlement, the state of California had initially estimated Activision’s liability for a far greater amount than $50 million.
The state in 2021 estimated Activision’s liability at nearly $1 billion to 2,500 employees who might have claims against the company, court documents show. Activision had around 13,000 employees as of the end of 2022.
Citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter, the Journal goes on to claim that state agencies had “initially sought an amount much greater than the settlement Riot Games paid earlier this year to settle its lawsuit.” That ruling in May 2023 touched upon similar grievances relating to toxic workplace culture and resulted in a $100 million settlement for plaintiffs.