Activision Blizzard has agreed to pay $35 million (nearly Rs. 290 crore) to settle allegations over the video game maker’s handling of workplace complaints and violations of whistleblower protection rules, US financial regulators said on Friday.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said the company knew employee retention issues were “a particularly important risk in its business” but did not have adequate measures in place to manage workplace misconduct complaints between 2018 and 2021.
The company, which makes the popular Call of Duty game, also required employees between 2016 and 2021 to tell the company if the SEC contacted them for information — a violation of whistleblower protection rules, the agency said in a statement.
“Activision Blizzard failed to implement necessary controls to collect and review employee complaints about workplace misconduct, which left it without the means to determine whether larger issues existed that needed to be disclosed to investors,” said Jason Burt, who heads the SEC’s Denver office, said in a statement.
Representatives for the Santa Monica, California-based video game developer and publishing company, in a statement, said they were “pleased to have amicably resolved this matter” and had “enhanced” their workplace reporting and contract language.
Microsoft, which makes Xbox, had made a $69 billion (nearly Rs. 5,66,500 crore) bid to acquire Activision Blizzard, but the Federal Trade Commission asked a judge in December to block the transaction. EU authorities as also examining the deal. The FTC, which enforces antitrust law, argued that the deal would give Microsoft’s Xbox exclusive access to Activision games, leaving Nintendo consoles and Sony’s PlayStation out in the cold.
Michael Chappell, the FTC administrative law judge, will rule on the deal after hearings set for August 2023.
© Thomson Reuters 2023