Phil Spencer Discusses Xbox’s Relationship With Activision Blizzard And Dealing With Problematic Studios

In an audio interview with Kara Swisher of The New York Times, head of Xbox Phil Spencer spoke on a wide range of matters surrounding the Xbox model, together with his firm’s response to the myriad of ongoing sexual harassment, assault, and gender discrimination lawsuits at Activision Blizzard. Spencer had beforehand instructed his workers in an open letter that management was “evaluating all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and making ongoing proactive adjustments.” He clarified what meaning in addition to the writer’s bigger philosophy on sustaining relationships with companions embroiled in office controversy. 

When requested to explain how precisely Xbox has modified its business practices with Activision, Spencer said he couldn’t publicly focus on specifics, solely saying, “We have changed how we do certain things with them, and they’re aware of that.” 

He went on to say that Xbox’s mission isn’t about “virtue-shaming” different studios, admitting that its personal file on such issues “is not spotless.” Spencer particularly brings up Xbox’s 2016 Game Developers Conference dance occasion that featured half-naked feminine performers, an occasion he later apologized for. He states that the state of affairs served as a catalyst for the staff to turn into higher. Because of this, Spencer says he desires to make use of these classes to deal with serving to corporations enhance their tradition moderately than to strictly punish them. 

“And I really, honestly, I apply most of my energy in that space. And any of the partners that are out there, if I can learn from them or I can help with the journey that we’ve been on [at] Xbox by sharing what we’ve done and what we’ve built, I’d much rather do that than get into any kind of finger-wagging at other companies that are out there.” 

“I don’t think my job is out there to punish other companies,” says Spencer. 

Swisher then pressed Spencer on how Xbox can reconcile doing business with a firm whose allegations embody a number of counts of sexual assault towards feminine workers, together with rape, in addition to one reported occasion of suicide as a result of sexual harassment. Especially when CEO Bobby Kotick evidently knew of these issues for years and did little to deal with them whereas obscuring the main points from shareholders. 

In phrases of responding to those points in a broader sense, Spencer believes that change requires making employees really feel secure about reporting poisonous practices by sustaining open strains of communication. “And to get there, it’s a cultural effort of how do you build that trust so people feel like when they whistle blow, when they raise their hand about topics that are going on, that they won’t face repercussions,” says Spencer. “Rather, they’ll see motion.”

Addressing Bobby Kotick’s allegations, Spencer explains, “I would say in terms of individuals that are in leadership positions at other companies, it’s not obviously our position to judge who the CEOs are. Like, CEOs are chosen by shareholders and boards. At Xbox, I know who I’m accountable for here in terms of the business and the operations. It’s my teams here, my management chain. And that’s the thing that we continue to focus on, is to try to grow. And whether that’s us sharing, again, the experiences that we have with other partners, if we can help them on their own journey or on the things that happen in our own teams.”

The full interview is price a learn/pay attention as Spencer additionally discusses Xbox’s strategy to battling on-line participant toxicity, utilizing Xbox Live as a platform totally free speech, his opinion on the metaverse, the pandemic’s impact on Xbox gross sales (spoiler: it has been excellent), and gaming as an dependancy. 

As beforehand talked about, 2021 had not been sort to Activision Blizzard. It has spent the final a number of months battling main lawsuits from the State of California and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the latter of which it not too long ago settled with), in addition to an exodus of workers, both as a result of being perpetrators of abuse or as victims of it. The writer can also be coping with a weeks-long strike at Call of Duty assist studio Raven Software as a result of QA staff lay-offs.

[Source: The New York Times]

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