CoD maker Activision Blizzard’s compliance chief officer steps down

Gaming company Activision Blizzard’s chief compliance officer, Frances Townsend, is stepping down after several sexual assault allegations surfaced at the company.

She is stepping down from her role after hundreds of employees last year criticised her response to workers’ sexual harassment complaints, a charge Townsend has denied.

Townsend will still serve as an advisor to the board and the embattled Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, reports Wall Street Journal.

Townsend joined the Call of Duty (CoD) game maker in March 2021 as executive vice president for corporate affairs, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer.

She will no longer be an employee and “her deputies will be promoted to fill the positions she held”.

Townsend, an ex-counterterrorism official under former US President George W. Bush, was tasked with helping Activision deal with state and federal probes into allegations of gender bias and sexual harassment at the company, the report mentioned.

Her departure came as Activision is in the process of its $68.7 billion all-cash acquisition by Microsoft.

The European Commission last week opened a formal investigation into the deal and set a provisional deadline of November 8 for the first phase of its probe.

The UK market watchdog last month announced an in-depth probe into Microsoft’s deal.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it is concerned that Microsoft’s anticipated purchase of Activision Blizzard “could substantially lessen competition in gaming consoles, multi-game subscription services, and cloud gaming services (game streaming)”.

Activision Blizzard has some of the world’s best-selling and most recognisable gaming franchises, such as Call of Duty (CoD) and World of Warcraft.

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