While not directly mentioning Activision Blizzard, which is currently facing multiple regulatory investigations over its handling of alleged sexual assaults and harassment of female employees, or its CEO Bobby Kotick, EA’s EVP and COO Laura Miele appeared to be pointing the finger in their direction during her speech on Wednesday, IGN reports.
“Let’s face it, there have been some rough headlines,” said Miele, who has been with EA for over 25 years and previously served as its chief studios officer. “Stories about negligence and lawsuits, all stemming from leaders who failed to uphold standards we’ve come to expect.”
She added: “Women have been harassed, bullied, marginalised, held back in their careers, paid less, and much, much less. These are real stories, real human beings, and this is going on in companies in our industry.”
Miele said that “leaders who fall short of basic standards must go.”
In November, a Wall Street Journal report alleged that Kotick was aware of multiple sexual misconduct allegations at Activision Blizzard.
In a statement at the time, a company spokesperson said Kotick “would not have been informed of every report of misconduct at every Activision Blizzard company, nor would he reasonably be expected to have been updated on all personnel issues”.
Kotick was also accused of mistreating several female employees, including leaving a voicemail in 2006 in which he threatened to have an assistant killed.
An Activision spokesperson said of the accusation: “Mr. Kotick quickly apologized 16 years ago for the obviously hyperbolic and inappropriate voice mail, and he deeply regrets the exaggeration and tone in his voicemail to this day.”
The Activision Blizzard board also released a statement at the time saying it remained confident in Kotick’s leadership.
Xbox owner Microsoft announced in January that it intends to acquire Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion deal – the game industry’s biggest ever by some distance.
Kotick is reportedly expected to leave the company once the deal closes in the first half of 2023.