Jessica Gonzalez isn't the first prominent woman to leave Activision Blizzard, and she likely won't be the last. Ever since the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit revealed the Call of Duty-maker’s long history of abuse, harassment, and discrimination within the company, there have been multiple employee walkouts, several bombshell reports, and murmurs of unionization. And, employees at all levels continue to leave the company. Change needs to happen, and the Board of Directors’ inadequate and slow response is causing the company to lose a lot of good people.
What happened — On November 30, Blizzard Senior Test Analyst Jessica Gonzalez announced her resignation on Twitter. She rose to prominence following the July 2021 lawsuit as one of the loudest voices of ABetterABK, the workers' alliance responsible for employee walkouts and other activism at Activision Blizzard. An anonymous source told Axios that “she was the spark that started the explosion.”
Gonzalez will officially leave Activision Blizzard on December 10 for a Senior Quality Engineering Role at a financial tech company outside of the game industry.
Gonzalez’s message to Activision Blizzard — Gonzalez shared the note she left on Activision Blizzard’s internal Slack with the public. You can read the entire statement below:
“For those of you thankful for my voice, I encourage you to find yours and use it,” she writes. “There are good people in the industry, and I believe with enough education and awareness ABK can be a great place to be... It’s been a long and exhausting road for change, but it isn’t over.”
She ends her post by directly calling out Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. “To @bktoick: Your inaction and refusal to take accountability is driving out great talent and the products will suffer until you are removed from your position as CEO,” Gonzalez states. “This may seem harsh, but you had years to fix the culture and look at where the company now stands.”
Activision Blizzard is bleeding — As a result of these workplace issues, Activision Blizzard is losing a lot of talented people. The Wall Street Journal report about Kotick revealed that Blizzard Co-Lead Jen Oneal resigned because she felt tokenized as the woman in charge of Blizzard and was paid less than her male counterpart.
Now, Activision Blizzard is losing one of the developers that fought the hardest to make the company a better place. Gonzalez organized walkouts and promoted unionization; She didn’t just take a pay cut for sympathy or form a pro-Kotick committee.
We’ve also seen prominent figureheads like Jeff Kaplan leave the company over the past couple of years, so this issue started to build before the lawsuit went public. Add all of the other developers that have been rightfully fired because of sexual harassment claims, and you have a company that’s quickly becoming a shell of its former self.
The Inverse Analysis — From a developer’s perspective, there are very few reasons that one would want to continue to work for or apply to a company with such apparent issues. Even from the Board’s perspective, losing so much talent is a bad look, and as Gonzalez points out, it will delay and worsen the quality of games like Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4.
ABetterABK is more than one person, so Activision Blizzard employees must continue to fight for change. And yet, the resignation of Jessica Gonzalez reveals just how far Activision Blizzard has fallen — and what it stands to lose due to negligence from those in power.