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Activision Blizzard Suing Netflix Over Poached Exec

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Illustration: Activision Blizzard / Netflix / Kotaku

For those of you who love corporate beef, here’s a whopper: Activision Blizzard is suing Netflix. As reported by Deadline, Netflix poached a top Activision exec, chief financial officer Spencer Neumann, before his contract expired. In response, Activision filed suit in the Superior Court of California earlier today.

According to Activision’s lawyers, Neumann started working at the Call of Duty factory in May 2017, with his contract set to lapse in April of this year. (The game publisher retained the right to extend that by one further year, too.) Netflix wooed him in late 2018. A job lasting merely a year-and-a-half job might be a corporate faux pas—and might be an eyebrow-raiser on a LinkedIn page—but it’s the contract violation that serves as the bedrock of today’s complaint.


Activision is asking for a permanent injunction—basically, a court order that says, “You can’t do this anymore”—against Netflix, barring the streaming service from hiring Activision employees who may have “fixed-term employment agreements.” Activision is also asking for punitive damages, or “punies,” which is lawyer-speak for “$$$$.”

Activision isn’t just apparently pissed about Neumann, though. Scroll through the complaint—which you can read here in full courtesy of Deadline—and you’ll see some language complete with thinly veiled irritation that Netflix is making apparent inroads into the video game space, following Neumann’s 2018 onboarding. Activision’s lawyers stress that Netflix attended E3 in 2019, and hosted a panel called “Bringing Your Favorite Shows to Life: Developing Netflix Originals Into Video Games.” I’m not so sure about the panel’s name. To date, I have yet to pout and then fail to protect a British VIP in a game based on The Bodyguard.


I also haven’t seen an Emily in Paris game that lets me become the expat mid-level marketing guru I’ve always known has existed deep in my bones.

The complaint points out that a game based on Stranger Things—the popular horror series that bears no resemblance to Super 8, nope, none at all—came out last year for multiple platforms. The suits also mention a video game based on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. (Presumably, they’re talking about The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics, which came out in February.)

Activision, of course, is now famous for publishing the Call of Duty franchise. According to the NPD Group, it’s the best-selling video game franchise in U.S. history.

Read the whole report on Deadline.

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