Following the lawsuit filed by the state of California against Activision Blizzard for alleged sexual discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, there has been an outpouring of support for those who were affected by the allegations. Support has even come from Blizzard’s last President who said that he “failed women” during his time at the company. Now, nearly 1,000 current and former Activision Blizzard employees have signed a letter drawing criticism at the company’s responses to the lawsuit. The full letter, reviewed by Bloomberg, was circulated Monday, says:
To the leaders of Activision Blizzard,
We the undersigned, agree that the statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend as abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for. To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.
We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry. Categorizing the claims that have been made as “distorted, and in many cases false” creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization. Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action — and the troubling official responses that followed — we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a “truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit,” while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse, is simply unacceptable.
We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees — as well as our community — have a safe place to speak out and come forward.
We stand with all our friends, teammates, and colleagues, as well as the members of our dedicated community, who have experienced mistreatment or harassment of any kind. We will not be silenced, we will not stand aside, and we will not give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all feel proud to be a part of again. We will be the change.
The lawsuit has also has affected certain Activision Blizzard games as well. Last week, Overwatch was going to get a new map but it was pulled at the last minute. The map is called Malevento and is a daytime map set in Italy and will be available in Deathmatch. It will mark the game’s first new map in seven months. it was going to be announced and released in the PTR. The official release date for the map coming into the game is August 17. Following the lawsuit being filed, Activision Blizzard has remained silent so it’s unclear if the map will still be released in the PTR.
World of Warcraft system designer Jeff Hamilton was one of the many who showed support and shared his story regarding the situation. He revealed that the progress on the game right now has essentially stopped following the lawsuit.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t have all the answers. I can tell you, almost no work is being done on World of Warcraft right now while this obscenity plays out. And that benefits nobody – not the players, not the developers, not the shareholders.
— Jeff Hamilton (@JeffAHamilton) July 25, 2021
Players in the game have also staged an in-game protest, gathering in social spaces. There is also a call to remove an in-game character based on a former Senior Creative Director who allegedly “was permitted to engage in alleged blatant sexual harassment with little to no repercussions.”