Over the weekend, a scandal related to Activision Blizzard’s accusations of discrimination against women developed. Mike Morhaime, one of the founders and former head of Blizzard, spoke about the problem. Some employees stopped working on World of Warcraft in protest, and a number of media outlets announced a boycott of the company.

Brief chronology of events

  • The lawsuit against Activision Blizzard became known on Thursday. The company was accused of harassment and harassment of female employees.
  • Activision Blizzard itself disagreed with the claims and noted that the current working environment in the company is far from the toxic atmosphere described in the lawsuit.
  • The scandal caused a great resonance in social networks and forums. Some World of Warcraft players have organized sit-in protests inside the game, calling on the company to fix the problems.
  • Blizzard President Jay Allen Brack (J. Allen Brack) in a letter to employees promised to fight the toxic culture at work. Brak noted that he has always advocated for women’s rights and stated that the famous journalist and feminist Gloria Steinem is considered a saint in his family.
  • Many companies and public figures from the gaming industry have spoken out about the scandal. Among them was Bungie, which has been cooperating with Activision for a long time. Destiny developers have stated that they despise harassment and discrimination in any form, promising to continue to fight such problems.

Statements by former Blizzard top managers

On July 24, Mike Morheim published a big statement. He was one of the founders of Blizzard and worked at the company for 28 years. In 2018, he left the post of president and founded the Dreamhaven studio.

Morheim noted that he always welcomed any employees to the company — regardless of their gender, orientation or origin. However, the new lawsuit says that he and other managers failed women and failed to create safe working conditions for them.

“The responsibility for eliminating toxicity and harassment in any form and at all levels lies with the leadership. I appeal to the women from Blizzard who have experienced these problems — I am very sorry that I let you down,” Morheim said.

At the end of his address, the former president of Blizzard promised to use his influence in the gaming sphere to fight discrimination and make the gaming industry better.

On July 25, Chris Metzen spoke about the scandal. He worked at Blizzard from 1994 to 2016. During his career, he has been a game designer, artist and voice actor, and has also become senior vice president of storytelling and franchise development at Blizzard. Metzen had a hand in the creation of the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo universes.

He also apologized to the former and current employees of the company and said that he had let them down. Metzen noted that there can be no excuses for the current working environment at Blizzard.

“We let too many people down when they needed us. We had the privilege not to notice, not to empathize and not to create the necessary conditions for colleagues who needed us as leaders. I would like my apologies to correct this situation. But they won’t be able to influence it,” Metzen wrote.

In the end, he noted that he was ashamed in front of colleagues, whose stories and problems he had not paid enough attention to.

Boycott by individual media

The Gamer edition was one of the first to announce its decision. According to the editor-in-chief Kirk Mckind, the portal will stop covering any Activision Blizzard games. The boycott will end only in case of real changes within the company. At the same time, some news about the scandal itself will still appear on the site.

Mckind also accused Activision Blizzard management of gaslighting. This is due to the statement of the Vice president for corporate Affairs Frances Townsend (Frances Townsend). She called some of the claims from the lawsuit distorted and false, noting that the company respects all employees and gives them equal opportunities and rights.

A number of other publications have joined The Gamer. Prima Games portal refused to cover games not only Activision Blizzard, but also Ubisoft in connection with the latest news about harassment in the Singapore office. GameXplain noted that there is no place for sexual harassment and discrimination in the gaming industry. And the editors of Overlode canceled regular streams on Call of Duty: Warzone.

Reaction of Activision Blizzard employees

  • Many employees were dissatisfied with the official comments of Brak and other company executives. Among them were the key developers of Overwatch and World of Warcraft.
  • Employees massively stressed that the company’s statements do not reflect their personal views on the problem. The developers criticized the management of Activision Blizzard and called their reaction a slap in the face to all ordinary employees and victims of harassment.
  • World of Warcraft software engineer Elizabeth Larkin (Elsbeth Larkin), although not faced with harassment, but heard a lot of horror stories from colleagues. She is outraged that Activision Blizzard continues to disavow the accusations.
  • World of Warcraft senior game designer Jeremy Feasel said that the team believes the women and will try to bring the perpetrators to justice. He also noted that as a sign of solidarity, many developers will stop working on the game for a day.
  • According to Jeff Hamilton, WoW’s senior system designer, the scandal has seriously affected developers. He noted that now the team is almost not working on the game, and this situation is not beneficial to either the players or the shareholders of the company.