Activision Blizzard has been incentivising its US staff to let it track their health since 2014

Activision Blizzard has been incentivising its US staff to let it track their health since 2014

Games publishing giant Activision Blizzard has been offering incentives for employees to have their data tracked since 2014.

That's according to the Washington Post, which has written a report about the Overwatch and Call of Duty company tracking apps from Ovia, which report on fertility, pregnancy and parenting respectively. Event planner Diana Diller said that she was paid in $1-a-day gift cards.

"Maybe I’m naive, but I thought of it as positive reinforcement: They’re trying to help me take care of myself,” she said, going on to point out that the $1 vouchers contribute to items for her now-born baby.

This is just one example of Activision Blizzard tracking its employees. Back in 2014, the company launched an initiative that incentivised staff to let the firm track their physical activity with a Fitbit. This is part of the publisher's health insurance offering. 

VP of global benefits Milt Ezzard said that though there was resistance at the time, but this has lessened over time.

“Each time we introduced something, there was a bit of an outcry: ‘You’re prying into our lives,’ ” Ezzard said.

“But we slowly increased the sensitivity of stuff, and eventually people understood it’s all voluntary, there’s no gun to your head, and we’re going to reward you if you choose to do it.”

He continued: People’s sensitivity has gone from: ‘Hey, Activision Blizzard is Big Brother,’ to: ‘Hey, Activision Blizzard really is bringing me tools that can help me out.’ ”

Ezzard also said that employees having healthy babies is good for business.

“I want them to have a healthy baby because it’s great for our business experience,” he said.

“Rather than having a baby who’s in the neonatal ICU, where she’s not able to focus much on work.”

The exec points out there's strict controls on who can view this data and that medical claim are handled by a third-party to ensure privacy. Ezzard also claims that tracking its employees with such tech is saving Activision Blizzard $1,200 annually for every employee.

Prior to Ovia, pregnant employees at Activision Blizzard were contacted on the phone by insurance company nurses. There are around 50 employees using Ovia to track their pregnancy at any time, Ezzard says.

No doubt this practice - tracking employees - is commonplace, especially thanks to the way health insurance is handled in the United States.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.