CEO of Activision Blizzard gives personal phone number to thousands of workers

Blizzard is facing backlash for punishing a pro Hong Kong player.
Image: Blizzard Entertainment

The CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, has reportedly shared his personal number with thousands of company employees. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, he has encouraged 10,000 workers to contact him if they have “concerns about their health care.” So far, several hundred have taken him up on the opportunity.

Kotick is using the current circumstances to reevaluate the effectiveness of his company’s health care options. His team is looking into expanding private physician availability, covering drug co-pays, and adding telehealth options. Only a small number of Activision Blizzard employees have contracted COVID-19 thus far.

The gaming leader has followed many others in allowing employees to work from home. Kotick has yet to speculate about an end date. He is instead embracing and encouraging the collaboration he has seen across the business’ global footprint.

Kotick does, however, acknowledge that different types of difficulties come from working at home. “I don’t think we’ve had the same challenges from a work from home perspective as other companies, but people are feeling the isolation, frustration and anxiety,” said Kotick. By giving out his phone number, he hopes to help others feel connected and heard.

Activision Blizzard Fighting for Market Share

To empower employees at home during this time, Activision Blizzard is paying for increased broadband speeds and new equipment, if necessary. Still, the gaming publisher has faced competitive challenges outside of COVID-19. Fortnite, the popular battle royale game that recently delayed the release of its next season, has captured the attention of millions. In doing so, it has forced players like Activision Blizzard to reevaluate its strategy moving forward.

Kotick announced a workforce cut of 8 percent back in February. Activision Blizzard also absorbed a $150 million charge to reduce investments in games that aren’t performing well. Leadership anticipates that 2020 will be a transition year in which in-game sales don’t grow as quickly as anticipated.

There is one bright spot for the company right now. Last week, Call of Duty: Warzone surpassed 50 million players to make it one of the fastest-growing games in history.

COVID Impact on Gaming

Overall, the gaming sector is faring decently well relative to other industries right now. Much of the virus’ impact has been on big conferences and competitions that would otherwise bring thousands of gamers together. Momocon 2020, QuakeCon 2020, and many other events have been cancelled this year, and others, such as the USC Games Expo, have decided to go fully digital.

Microsoft is reportedly planning to make all internal events digital until June 2021. Several game makers have also had to delay releases, and next-gen consoles may come out later than expected due to supply chain issues. On the upside, online gaming is exploding as millions of people isolate from home.

Steam set a new record when it supported 20 million gamers at once. Pokemon Go also launched an update to make playing indoors easier, which helped the game generate 67 percent week-over-week growth in late March. Additionally, Microsoft has had trouble keeping up with online demand for Xbox Live. It’s clear that gaming is helping fill a human connectivity void that so many are experiencing right now.


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