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Following the emergence of disturbing stories of what it's like to work for Activision in a lawsuit filed in July of last year, Xbox explicated that it would be reviewing its professional relationship with the publisher of Call of Duty. Now, Phil Spencer has stated that while things have changed between the two, there will be no "virtue-shaming" from its side.
The California Department of Fair Employment levied legal action against Activision following allegations of a poisonon "frat boy workplace culture" which degraded women who worked for the company. Not only were women in "higher roles [earning] less salary, incentive pay and total compensation", racial and sexual harassment was pervasive at Activision and events like BlizzCon. Both Sony and Microsoft reached out to find out how the publisher would be tackling the problematic culture that allowed these alleged instances to occur. “We respect all feedback from our valued partners and are engaging with them further,” said Activision in response to the criticism from the two titans. Expectedly, the content of those conversations have been kept behind closed doors, yet Phil Spencer has shone a little light on his own opinions about Activision.
Speaking to New York Times reporter Kara Swisher in the latest episode of the Sway podcast, he said that he was "saddened and sickened" when he heard about what was happening at Activision. “I always feel for people working on any team, my own teams, other teams,” he explained. “I think people should feel safe and included in any workplace that they’re in. I’ve been in this industry long enough to maybe feel more ownership for what happens in the video game space."
Although the Xbox boss isn't able to relay what has been communicated between Microsoft and Activision, he confirmed that those conversations have come to a close. “We have changed how we do certain things with them, and they’re aware of that,” he said. “But I also - this isn’t about, for us as Xbox, virtue-shaming other companies. Xbox’s history is not spotless.”
When Swisher pressed Spencer for comments on Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, he wasn't willing to get into the nitty-gritty of that topic. "I think in terms of interactions with other companies, the things that we choose to do with our brand and our platform, in coordination or not with other companies, is the avenue that we have to have an impact," he answered. "I would say in terms of individuals that are in leadership positions at other companies, it’s not obviously our position to judge who the CEOs are."
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