Nintendo president adds to chorus of Activision Blizzard rebukes

Activision Blizzard's workplace culture scandal has got every console maker speaking up.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 03:  In this photo provided by Nintendo of America, Doug Bowser, Senior Vice Pr...
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Doug Bowser, president of Nintendo of America, reportedly sent staff an email critical of how Activision Blizzard has been handling its continued sexual harassment scandal. The contents of the email, first leaked by Fanbyte, have since been authenticated by Nintendo’s PR team.

Bowser sent his email out to all levels of Nintendo of America, including smaller internal development studios, on Friday, November 19. It speaks specifically to the November 16 Wall Street Journal report that alleges Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick knew about the company’s sexual harassment issues long before they were reported.

“Along with all of you, I’ve been following the latest developments with Activision Blizzard and the ongoing reports of sexual harassment and toxicity at the company,” Bowser writes in his email. “I find these accounts distressing and disturbing. They run counter to my values as well as Nintendo’s beliefs, values and policies.”

The gaming industry’s biggest companies rarely agree on anything. Now executives from Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft have all denounced Activision’s response to the allegations.

No mention of Bobby — The beginning of the email — quoted above — is the most explicit Bowser gets in his rebuke of Activision Blizzard’s situation. Much of the email reportedly speaks to the inclusive workplace Nintendo always strives for.

Notably absent from Bowser’s email: any direct rebuke of Activision CEO Bobby Kotick’s behavior. Kotick is the subject of that Wall Street Journal report; it’s his negligence that’s led more than 1,700 Activision Blizzard employees to sign a petition calling for his removal.

Bowser keeps his comments vaguer, choosing to focus on the overarching problems at Activision Blizzard. He says Nintendo has been in contact with Activision and has “taken action,” though he doesn’t explicate that any further. He says Nintendo has also been speaking to representatives from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) about creating firmer workplace standards on harassment and abuse.

Time to resign — The console wars are, for the most part, entirely unforgiving. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo do everything they can to one-up each other on a daily basis — it’s pretty much their modus operandi. For once, gaming’s biggest corporations agree on something: Activision Blizzard needs to change. Bobby Kotick’s inability to govern has caused a console war armistice.

Activision Blizzard’s most important partners have condemned the company’s profuse abuse problems. One-fifth of the company has explicitly called for Kotick’s resignation. Kotick himself has said he’ll consider stepping down if he can’t “fix” the company. His resignation won’t solve all of Activision Blizzard’s problems — but it would be a good start.