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Published: December 6, 2021

Written by: David Kent

  • The Game Awards will not feature Activision Blizzard in 2021
  • The organization is reevaluating its relationship with Activision Blizzard
  • The Game Awards can serve as a platform for change, says organization founder Geoff Keighley

Activision Blizzard’s numerous reports of gross misconduct towards employees have prompted The Game Awards to send an unequivocal message and refuse to invite the company to its annual gathering.

The Game Awards Give Activision Blizzard a Hard Pass

Activision Blizzard has sustained some serious reputational damage in 2021. Even Bobby Kotick, the company’s chief executive, has come under fire, as heads rolled, and employees spoke out about the rampant culture of sexual abuse and misogyny. At one point, the company was even associated with an employee suicide.

Allegedly, a young female employee took her own life during a company retreat. She was said to be having a relationship with a higher-up, which, at the time of the suicide, had brought an entire suitcase of adult toys with him.

The company is facing a lawsuit in California over labor violations, and its entire reputation has been put at stake, not just by the outrageous mismanagement on a purely human level, but also by the numerous flops in beloved franchises such as Warcraft and Diablo. Warcraft 3: Reforged is said to have been released incomplete to meet some frivolous internal deadlines.

So, in light of this, Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4, both of which were delayed, will not be part of The Game Awards in 2021 as Activision Blizzard has been asked to sit this one out. This is not a surprise. The Game Awards is meant as a celebration of the industry, but none of the scandals surrounding Blizzard are festive or particularly worth celebrating.

Industry No Place for Predatory Practices, says Game Awards Founder

Sure, some games have been nominated, The Game Awards founder Geoff Keighley confirmed on December 3, but this does not mean that the company is welcome. Blizzard took serious reputational damage that prompted many high-profile investors to sever ties with the Overwatch and Call of Duty League.

The company has been nominated with two titles, to name Call of Duty and Warzone. They are listed in the Best Esports Game and the Best Ongoing Game categories respectively. However, there will be no passing mentions of the company outside of that.

Keighley was adamant The Game Awards can serve as a platform for change that would not tolerate predatory practices within the sector:

“All of us are accountable to this standard. Incredible games — and the talented developers who build them — are who we want to celebrate.”

The Game Awards founder Geoff Keighley

Keighley and The Game Awards have confirmed in an interview for The Washington Post that they are re-evaluating their relationship with Activision Blizzard.

Activision president Rob Kostich is listed on The Game Awards’ advisory board, and the organization has since received calls to remove him over the widespread scandal, and what it implies about the work culture at Activision Blizzard.

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