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What just happened? Earlier this week, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan revealed his dissatisfaction with Activision Blizzard's response to recent reports about its CEO Bobby Kotick. Ryan's views could be another significant issue for Activision because of its longtime relationship with PlayStation concerning its games, chiefly the Call of Duty series.
In an email to PlayStation employees reviewed by Bloomberg, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan said he was "disheartened and frankly stunned to read" what was in the Wall Street Journal's report earlier this week. Ryan reached out to Activision Blizzard, expressing his disappointment in how the company is currently defending Kotick.
For months now, Activision Blizzard has been caught up in a lawsuit and a series of investigations regarding its alleged "frat boy" culture, which allowed sexual harassment and discrimination against female employees. Many high-level members of Blizzard Entertainment left the company as a result.
This week the Wall Street Journal published an extensive report alleging that Kotick knew about sexual harassment and even rape allegations at Activision Blizzard for years and failed to inform the company about them.
Since then, groups of employees and an activist wing of shareholders have called on Kotick to resign. However, Activision Blizzard has so far stood by him. It released a statement to WSJ calling the report's depiction of Kotick "misleading," which drew Ryan's attention.
"We outreached to Activision immediately after the article was published to express our deep concern and to ask how they plan to address the claims made in the article," Ryan wrote in the email. "We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation."
PlayStation is one of Activision Blizzard's most important partners. Not only is it one of the leading platforms on which it releases its games, but it also has several deals involving the massive Call of Duty franchise. For years now, PlayStation has paid Activision to get exclusive marketing rights to COD games and exclusive access to certain in-game content. Ryan's views on the situation could put a damper on future deals.