A Frat Boy Culture No More: Activision Blizzard Pays $54 Million to Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit


In a significant development, Activision Blizzard, now under Microsoft’s ownership, has reached a settlement in the lawsuit filed by California’s Civil Rights Department (CRD).

The lawsuit, initially filed in July 2021, alleged a toxic “frat boy” culture within the gaming giant, fostering an environment of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination.

Background of the Lawsuit

The lawsuit painted a troubling picture of Activision Blizzard, with female employees facing persistent sexual harassment and encountering obstacles in obtaining leadership roles.

The accusations extended to disparities in salary, incentive pay, and overall compensation when compared to their male counterparts.

Impact on Activision Blizzard

The fallout from the lawsuit was substantial.

Employees, appalled by the company’s defensive stance, organized walkouts, and key executives, including then-Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, departed.

Soon after, The Wall Street Journal dropped a bombshell report, alleging that CEO Bobby Kotick knew about sexual misconduct allegations for years, raising questions about the company’s leadership.

Details of the Settlement

As part of the settlement, Activision Blizzard is set to pay approximately $54 million.

This sum will cover direct relief to workers and litigation costs, with a significant portion, $45.75 million, dedicated to a settlement fund aimed at compensating affected workers.

CRD’s Stance and Investigation

Employees who faced harassment may receive some financial compensation, though details are still unclear.

Despite the settlement, the CRD clarified that no court or independent investigation had substantiated the allegations of sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard.

The New York Times reported that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by CEO Bobby Kotick, as per the CRD’s statement.

For Activision Blizzard, this settlement avoids the messy legal battle and puts a lid on a PR nightmare.

Microsoft, the company’s new owner, looks like they don’t wanna tarnish its reputation and settle the matter quickly.

Employee Response

The lawsuit prompted a strong response from employees who voiced their concerns through petitions and staged walkouts.

The departure of key executives signaled a company-wide acknowledgment of the need for change.

Microsoft’s Acquisition

Several months after the lawsuit, Microsoft announced its intention to acquire Activision Blizzard in a massive $68.7 billion deal.

The acquisition faced regulatory hurdles but finally closed in October, marking a new chapter for the gaming industry.

The acquisition’s completion required navigating through various regulatory challenges.

The gaming community and industry experts closely watched the process, anticipating the impact of Microsoft’s ownership on Activision Blizzard’s culture.

Kotick’s Role

Bobby Kotick, amidst the controversies, decided to stay at Activision Blizzard until the end of the year.

His role in steering the company through this challenging period raised questions about accountability and the future direction of the gaming giant.

Previous Settlement with EEOC

In 2022, Activision Blizzard reached a separate $18 million settlement with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over a different lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and discrimination within the company.

This settlement reflected a broader effort to address systemic issues within the company.


This Activision Blizzard saga leaves us with more questions than answers. Did a toxic culture flourish under Kotick’s watch? Was it all just smoke and mirrors?

The settlement between Activision Blizzard and the California regulator is a crucial step toward resolving the allegations of a toxic workplace culture.

While the financial aspect is significant, the acknowledgment of the issues and the commitment to compensation for affected workers are equally noteworthy.

The gaming industry, now under Microsoft’s umbrella, will be closely watched for changes in culture and leadership.


  • California Civil Rights Department press release
  • The New York Times
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Reuters

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