It’s fair to say that Activision Blizzard have not had a great start to the 2019 year, or even a great past couple of months. From top-level executives leaving their posts, to Bungie departing and taking the Destiny franchise with them and an employee filing federal charges against them. Now, this new possible lawsuit only makes matters exponentially worse for Activision Blizzard.
Most of the downturn seems to be the lackluster performance of some of their key titles and the huge backlash there was at BlizzCon for Diablo: Immortal. Not to mention the fan base for lots of Blizzards games have started to dwindle with World of Warcraft seeing subs drop recently and Overwatch‘s player base starting to drop as well, especially since there was rumors of Overwatch becoming free-to-play sometime in 2019 to help expand the player base.
In October 2018 the CEO Mike Morhaime said he was going to step down and take on an advisory role in the company after being one of the initial people to start-up Blizzard. Fast forward a few months and he has decided to cut ties completely; with his last day being April 7, 2019. He will be replaced by J. Allen Brack. It’s speculation right now if his permanent leaving was all part of his initial stepping down or if he was forced into an advisory role and then decided enough was enough and decided to leave for good.
Activision Blizzard has had a rough time keeping CFOs (Chief Financial Officers) as well, with them losing two in a matter of a week. CFO Spencer Neumann left to join Netflix as their CFO(Neumann was let go after breaching his contract by searching for a new job supposedly) and he was replaced by Amrita Ahuja. Once she took over she instituted a few cost saving measures and then was hired by Square Inc. Activision Blizard reappointed Dennis Durkin as the new CFO as of January 2, 2019.
Last year Ben Brode, Hamilton Chu and Yong Woo left the company to form their own studio called Second Dinner. Brode, Chu and Woo were all three of Hearthstone’s top developers. There is also said to have been 100 general Activision Blizzard employees laid off as well as part of cost saving measures.
There is also the Bungie split from Activision Blizzard that is currently rocking the headlines, not to mention the interesting time an announcement regarding Soldier 76, one of the playable characters in Overwatch, as homosexual in a short story. With Tracer being announced as a lesbian shortly after the release of the game itself, why all of a sudden Soldier 76 as well? The announcement of Soldier 76 being homosexual has moved some attention away from them for now, so it seems uncomfortably reasonable that Activision Blizzard is trying to use the announcement as a sort of PR shield and positive form of a distraction.
With this whirlwind of high level execs leaving, Bungie parting ways(seemingly amicably), the layoffs and the lackluster sales of their games, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 being the exception, Acitivision Blizzard’s stocks took a hit. Investors got curious and called for an investigation into this after stocks were being sold before the Bungie split. Que the law firm of Pomerantz LLP, who are currently gathering investors for a potential lawsuit against Activision Blizzard.
While the potential lawsuit is in the fledgling stages, investors are wanting to make sure there was no prior knowledge of the Bungie split and how it would affect stock prices by Activision Blizzard officers. Right now it is important to point out that it is just an alleged accusation of insider trading and nothing more.
With everything happening now, it’s hard to try to figure out what exactly is going to happen with Activision Blizzard. Everything is speculation at best. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will probably net them enough to limp through this year given they have an overall lackluster line up for 2019 at the moment. Still, one can’t help but wonder if Activision Blizzard will come out of all of this as a better company after the streamlining and possible legal fiasco is over, or is it fair to assume Blizzard might part ways with Activision at some point as well? Only time will tell and it will be an interesting story to watch unfold.