Lego has added to Activision Blizzard’s woes by pausing the release of an Overwatch 2 block set.
Activision Blizzard produces the Overwatch series and many other games. Over the past year, the company has grappled with employee unrest amid allegations of gender discrimination and a lack of transparency and inclusion, among other issues.
“We are currently reviewing our partnership with Activision Blizzard given concerns about the progress being made to address continuing allegations regarding workplace culture, especially the treatment of female colleagues and creating a diverse and inclusive environment,” Lego said in a statement it provided to Capital.com.
“While we complete the review, we will pause the release of a Lego Overwatch 2 product which was due to go on sale on 1 February 2022.”
Lego has not said how long the review or set release pause will last. Activision Blizzard did not respond to Capital.com’s request for comment on Friday.
The toymaker’s decision was just one of many setbacks for Activision Blizzard over the past year.
Workers launch strike
In December, a group of Activision Blizzard employees calling itself A Better ABK Workers Alliance launched what has been described as an open-ended strike.
The strike resulted after 12 quality assurance contractors at subsidiary Raven Software received notice of their terminations, slated to take effect this month. That dispute followed two employee walkouts earlier in 2021, one of which involved more than 2,000 workers, to protest alleged harassment, gender discrimination, and a lack of pay equity.
Game Awards excludes company
The Game Awards – an annual ceremony honouring achievements in the video game industry – excluded Activision Blizzard from its December 2021 show due to the allegations the company is facing.
“There is no place for abuse, harassment or predatory practices in any company or any community,” Game Awards CEO Geoff Keighley tweeted.
CEO pressured to resign
In November, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick reduced his salary to $62,500 – the minimum for top executives under California law – after earning $154.61m in 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal, and faced pressure during much of the year to resign.
Kotick and a number of company officials issued several apologies surrounding the firm’s alleged mistreatment of women and delays in game releases.
Company faces discrimination lawsuit
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing launched a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard and its subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment in July. The lawsuit alleges that Activision Blizzard has a “frat boy culture” – making a reference to university fraternities – and is “a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.”
Blizzard Entertainment president J Allen Brack abruptly resigned in early August after his letter to employees in response to the lawsuit was heavily criticised. Two new co-leaders, former vice-presidents Jen Oneal and general manager Mike Ybarra, were promoted from within to run Blizzard Entertainment, but Oneal announced her departure from the company in November.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Oneal sent a scathing internal email, saying that she did not think company leaders could fix the culture problems, noting she had been sexually harassed earlier in her career, and she wanted to resign.
Firm agrees to settlement
Activision Blizzard agreed to pay $18m in September to settle an investigation launched by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In the same month, Activision Blizzard employees filed an unfair labour practices complaint in September with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The complaint, filed by the Communications Workers of America, alleges that the company “threatened employees that they cannot talk about or communicate about wages, hours and working conditions.”
In wake of the complaint, Activision Blizzard hired two senior executives, Julie Hodges as chief people officer and Sandeep Dube as chief commercial officer, from outside the company to help the company “build a more inclusive workplace as well as diversify and grow its revenue,” according to a news release.
Overwatch director departs
In April, long-time Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan resigned. No reason was given for his departure.
Activision Blizzard’s stock price has declined significantly over the past year and has a 52-week range of $56.40 to $104.53.
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