Activision Blizzard Walks Back Decision to Lift Vaccine Mandate

Activision Blizzard Chief Administrative Officer Brian Bulatao informed employees of the changing mandates.
Activision Blizzard Chief Administrative Officer Brian Bulatao informed employees of the changing mandates. / Pool/GettyImages

Activision Blizzard has reversed its decision to lift a requirement that North American employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine before returning to the office. The decision comes less than a day after an employee group threatened to walk off the job in protest.

Activision Blizzard will now allow individual studios to choose their own vaccine mandate requirements.

Activision Blizzard Chief Administrative Officer Brian Bulatao informed employees Thursday that it would no longer require employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to return to the office. Employees immediately expressed disapproval, and the worker group A Better Activision Blizzard King announced Friday it would lead a walkout Monday, April 4, to protest the decision.

The group's three demands included an immediate reversal to lifting the vaccine requirement, offering remote work as a permanent solution, and the freedom for individual employees to decide whether they work remotely or in office.

Just over two hours later, A Better ABK organizer and senior Blizzard UI engineer Valentine Powell tweeted that management had changed its mind on lifting the vaccine mandate.

"Brian Bulatao has conceded to allow each studio to choose their own vaccine mandate requirements," he tweeted Friday. "So far I've heard that Blizzard, QAMN, QALA, and QATX have reinstated a vaccine mandate. I hope to hear that all of my fellow ABK coworkers will be similarly protected."

Activision Blizzard did not address A Better ABK's demands regarding remote work, but the issue appears to remain on Powell's agenda.

"This conversation has illustrated why it is so crucial for workers to have the choice to [work from home] permanently if decisions about our health can be so casually decided without our input at a moment's notice," he tweeted.

Walkouts have become a not-uncommon occurrence at Activision Blizzard. The first took place in July 2021 after the company dismissed the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit alleging a work culture of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination. Another followed in November, when participants called for CEO Bobby Kotick's resignation over his reported involvement in minimizing reports of employee misconduct.

A third walkout took place in December when Activision Blizzard laid off dozens of QA workers at Raven Software. That walkout grew into a strike that ended when the workers announced plans to unionize as the Game Workers Alliance. The participants are now waiting for a decision from the National Labor Relations Board regarding the union's scope.