Xbox Has "Changed How We Do Certain Things" With Activision, Phil Spencer Says

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Xbox boss Phil Spencer has commented on Microsoft’s relationship with Activision in the wake of abuse allegations against the Call of Duty and Warcraft giant. Speaking to The New York Times, Spencer said Xbox has “changed how we do certain things” with Activision, but he didn’t go into specifics.

“The work we do specifically with a partner like Activision is something that, obviously, I’m not going to talk publicly about. We have changed how we do certain things with them, and they’re aware of that,” he said. “But I also–this isn’t about, for us as Xbox, virtue-shaming other companies. Xbox’s history is not spotless.”

On that note, Spencer mentioned the Game Developers Conference party years ago where Microsoft hired women to dance on platforms. Spencer said this was a “painful moment in our history of Xbox.”

“Some of the things that make me proud of that is how we came out of it. The work that we did as a team, I believe we’re stronger now because of that event, not that I would choose to repeat that event if I had that choice,” Spencer said.

The interviewer, Kara Swisher, asked Spencer a follow-up about the possibility of refusing to do business with Activision until the company “cleaned up.” Swisher mentioned how the abuse allegations happened under Bobby Kotick’s leadership.

Spencer didn’t comment on Kotick specifically, but he spoke about people in leadership positions. “I would say in terms of individuals that are in leadership positions at other companies, it’s not obviously our position to judge who the CEOs are. Like, CEOs are chosen by shareholders and boards.”

In November, Spencer said in a memo to staff that Xbox was “evaluating” its relationship with Activision Blizzard and would be making “ongoing proactive adjustments.” Spencer and other members of the senior management team at Xbox are “disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions” at Activision Blizzard, the memo said.

PlayStation boss Jim Ryan reached out to Activision Blizzard to express his concerns and ask what Activision Blizzard was doing to right the ship, while Nintendo’s Doug Bowser said the reports about sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard are “distressing and disturbing.”

For more, check out the full timeline of events involving Activision Blizzard and the California lawsuit it’s facing.

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