With the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the future of Xbox is much different today than it was yesterday. So it’s only fitting that a prominent figure from Xbox’s past has weighed in – and that his comments are more cautious than glowing.
Seamus Blackley, one of the architects of the original Xbox, left Microsoft in 2002, less than a year after his brainchild hit stores. Since then, however, he has remained active in the tech industry, at times weighing on Xbox’s progress in his absence. After Microsoft made industry history with its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Blackley shared his mixed feelings about the deal:
I’m sickened that the reward for years of despicable developer practices seems to be a huge payday for its authors. I hope the acquisition will change the culture of Activision and catalyze some accountability for those who have shunned it thus far.January 18, 2022
“I’m sickened that the reward for two years of despicable developer practices seems like a huge payday for its authors,” he tweeted. “I hope the acquisition will change the culture of Activision and can catalyze some accountability for those who have avoided it thus far.”
It’s not too hard to read between the lines here. Back in July the state of California slammed Activision Blizzard with a serious lawsuit. Among other things, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleged that “employees are subjected to constant sexual harassment”, including “[being] deprived of work on projects, transferred against their will to different units and selected to be fired.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick initially deflected and tried to downplay these allegations, while other high-level employees left the company and the developers began to organize against him. Without rehashing the whole subject, something seems rotten in the state of Activision Blizzard.
In light of these issues, Blackley’s concerns seem well-founded. Whatever Happens to Kotick After the Merger – Select Trade Publications suspects that it is not long for the company – he will probably walk away with a huge amount of money. Other well-paid executives will likely stay on board or leave with equally full coffers. The lesson, according to Blackley, seems to be that if you create or facilitate an abusive work culture, you may just walk away with big bucks.
Yet Blackley also sees a positive side to the situation:
“I strongly believe in [Xbox boss Phil Spencer] as a leader and leader,” affollow tweet states. “I think this is a very insightful move and could be a huge win for Xbox. There are huge challenges in all major acquisitions.[.] I just see developer culture issues as paramount here.
I strongly believe in @XboxP3 as a leader and leader. I think this is a very insightful move and could be a huge win for Xbox. There are significant challenges in all major acquisitions. I just consider developer culture issues to be paramount here, first and foremost.January 18, 2022
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard opens up many possibilities in both gaming and business. It’s wise to remember, however, that there are a lot of ordinary employees caught in the middle right now, and what will happen to them post-merger is also a vital question.
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