We've got another story to share in the ongoing saga that is the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard today, as four US senators including Bernie Sanders have shared 'deep concerns' about certain aspects of the deal.
In a letter penned to FTC chairwoman Lina Khan (thanks Video Games Chronicle), senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Sheldon Whitehouse and Cory Booker stated that the merger "threatens worker-led demands for accountability and could create a dangerous precedent in the industry." Here's a very small sample of what it has to say:
"Workers at Activision Blizzard, following years of rampant sexual misconduct and discrimination and unfair labor practices, have led calls for greater transparency and accountability in the gaming industry, and we are deeply concerned that this acquisition could further disenfranchise these workers and prevent their voices from being heard."
The letter claims that "Microsoft’s proposed deal with Activision Blizzard is protecting [Activision Blizzard CEO] Bobby Kotick," that Microsoft is "willing to prioritize profits over entrenched issues of gender-based discrimination in the organization," and that the deal "could interfere with Raven Software workers’ unionization push."
In response, an Activision spokeperson told The Wall Street Journal that the deal is a "compelling transaction for all stakeholders, including employees," and advised that in regards to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick and any potential financial gains for him personally, no special compensation arrangements were made as part of the acquisition.
Here's what Activision Blizzard had to say in an email statement to CNET:
"The company is committed to a safe and equitable working environment for all employees and has invested significant resources to ensure we're creating a model for the industry. The transaction between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will not interrupt any of the actions the Activision Blizzard's leadership team has implemented throughout 2021 and is continuing to implement in 2022 with regards to improving our workplace."
In addition, discussing the workplace culture at Activision Blizzard, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and General Counsel Lisa Tanzi told The Wall Street Journal the following:
“We believe Activision Blizzard will continue making progress, and we’re committed to further progress after the deal closes.”
Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has previously stated that when the deal goes through, the most "important" thing for him is to ensure that Activision Blizzard's employees "feel safe, they feel heard, so that they can do their best work".
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