After a bomb Wall Street Journal reports that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick allegedly knew, detained and even participated in harassing and abusive behavior, the company’s major console partners Sony and Microsoft are semi-private expressions of their distress. Bloomberg now reports that Microsoft chief Phil Spencer has now told staff that he was “disturbed and deeply disturbed by the horrific events and actions” at Activision Blizzard, and that Microsoft “evaluates all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and makes ongoing proactive adjustments “as a result.
Yesterday, Bloomberg also reported that Sony PlayStation boss Jim Ryan had told employees that the company had expressed “deep concern” over Activision Blizzard, adding that “[we] do not believe that their statements of reaction address the situation correctly. “
These private statements from Sony and Microsoft obviously do not carry nearly the same weight as if these companies in public mentioned the situation at Activision Blizzard, and it is not clear whether any of the companies are interested in taking concrete action yet. Activision Blizzard is one of the most powerful publishers in the video game industry, and both console manufacturers are relying on them to deliver new large budget games to their consoles.
That said, Microsoft and Sony also want to be seen as committed to a less toxic video game industry, and Phil Spencer in particular has made the fight against toxicity part of its public brand. “This type of behavior has no place in our industry,” reads part of Spencer’s new note on Activision Blizzard, according to Bloomberg.
While more than 500 Activision Blizzard employees have signed a petition to remove CEO Bobby Kotick from the company, and some shareholders have demanded his resignation, the board has so far signaled that they are confident in his management.
[Disclosure: Casey Wasserman is on the board of directors for Activision Blizzard as well as the board of directors of Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.]
Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment; it did not respond The edge‘s request for comment yesterday on whether it had any opinion or would take any action against Activision Blizzard.