Activision Blizzard compliance regulator Frances Townsend steps down

The compliance regulator, responsible for ensuring a healthy workplace environment, was criticised during her time at the company.

Activision Blizzard compliance regulator Frances Townsend steps down

There is perhaps no gaming company that saw such a fall from grace in recent memory than Activision Blizzard. The media giant, responsible for IP’s such as Starcraft, World of Warcraft and Overwatch, has seen consumer goodwill dry up quickly due to what many regard as completely avoidable events. The company faced allegations of sexual misconduct at the highest levels, ending up with a lawsuit levied by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) over these reports. Now, Activision Blizzard has seen Chief Compliance Officer Frances Townsend step down from her role within the company.

Bungled releases such as Warcraft III: Reforged did little to distract players from the ongoing fallout of these events. But currently, Activision Blizzard’s latest cause for concern is the storm brewing around their acquisition by Microsoft. Some suggest that Townsend’s stepping back from the company is more related to the assumption that compliance will soon be from Microsoft’s end rather than in-house, and not due to criticism of her conduct when in the role. Which many perceived as damage control rather than an attempt to foster genuine change.

World of Compliance-craft

A chief compliance officer is responsible for handling all aspects of compliance, regulations and rules in a company’s day-to-day business. In places that handle sensitive information for example, this can include overseeing that GDPR regulations and practices are adhered to. This can also include overall regulation of a company’s workplace culture, a fact that is important given that some have suggested Activision Blizzard’s studio culture is a major cause for concern.

Whilst Townsend will reportedly remain on as an advisor to CEO Bobby Kotick, her duties will be taken over by Senior VP of Ethics and Compliance Jen Brewer. Townsend had been previously criticised for dismissing the misconduct allegations, saying they, “-presented a distorted and untrue picture of our company.

Activision Blizzard is in the midst of a takeover bid by tech giant Microsoft, a deal which has been heavily scrutinised by antitrust regulators over the massive size of the potential takeover. Whether or not the deal goes ahead may lie in an upcoming decision on November 8th by said regulators. If the deal goes ahead it will purportedly be the largest in the gaming industry, and has seen Microsoft even create it's own website to promote the closure of the deal.

Staff Writer

Iwan is a Cardiff-based freelance writer, who only occasionally refers to himself in the third person.