Employees at Blizzard, maker of 'World of Warcraft' and 'Overwatch,' were reportedly paid so little they were forced to skip meals to pay rent while the CEO made $40 million

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity FairActivision CEO Bobby Kotick. Activision is the parent company of Blizzard Entertainment.
  • The massive video game publisher behind blockbuster franchises like “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” is facing major internal pushback after employees circulated a salary document that exposed major pay disparities.
  • Some employees at Blizzard Entertainment, which is owned by Activision, said they used free coffee as an appetite suppressant and skipped meals so they could pay rent, according to a new Bloomberg report.
  • Activision CEO Bobby Kotick took home around $US40 million last year.
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With some of the most popular, best-selling video game franchises in the world, Activision and its subsidiary, Blizzard Entertainment, are money-making powerhouses.

But some employees at Blizzard – the studio responsible for hits like “World of Warcraft,” “Overwatch,” and the upcoming “Diablo 4” – said they were paid so poorly that they used free office coffee as an appetite suppressant, skipped meals in the employee cafeteria, and, in one case, chose not to have kids due to an inability to afford them.

Blizzard employees recently circulated a salary document that highlighted vast disparities in the company, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday morning.

The biggest standout in that spreadsheet came from Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, who took home around $US40 million in 2019.

Though some positions within the company offer six figure salaries, a vast array of quality assurance testers and customer service representatives are paid far less, according to the report.

“Our goal has always been to ensure we compensate our employees fairly and competitively. We are constantly reviewing compensation philosophies to better recognise the talent of our highest performers and keep us competitive in the industry, all with the aim of rewarding and investing more in top employees,” Activision spokesperson Jessica Taylor said in a statement. “This year, our top performers received a salary increase that is 20% more than in prior years. Our overall salary investment is consistent with prior years. Additionally, more people received promotions this year compared to prior years.”

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