It’s only a matter of time until the former founder and leads of Blizzard talk about the recent kerfuffles the current company is in; specifically the Activision Blizzard lawsuit alleging widespread discrimination and sexual harassment.
First up is Mike Morhaime, former president and CEO who said the following on a TwitLonger post.
“It is all very disturbing and difficult to read. I am ashamed. It feels like everything I thought I stood for has been washed away. What’s worse but even more important, real people have been harmed, and some women had terrible experiences.
Harassment and discrimination exist. They are prevalent in our industry. It is the responsibility of leadership to keep all employees feeling safe, supported, and treated equitably, regardless of gender and background. It is the responsibility of leadership to stamp out toxicity and harassment in any form, across all levels of the company. To the Blizzard women who experienced any of these things, I am extremely sorry that I failed you.”
— Mike Morhaime (@mikemorhaime) July 24, 2021
Next up is Chris Metzen, former senior vice president of story and franchise development at Blizzard until he retired in 2016. Here is his public statement regarding the issue:
“We failed, and I’m sorry. To all of you at Blizzard – those of you I know and those of you whom I’ve never met – I offer you my very deepest apologies for the part I played in a culture that fostered harassment, inequality, and indifference.
There is no excuse. We failed too many people when they needed us because we had the privilege of not noticing, not engaging, not creating necessary space for the colleagues who needed us as leaders. I wish my apology could make any kind of difference. It can’t.
Words are cheap. Not sure what grand, sweeping promises really do either. Accountability starts with people. Not corporations, or platitudes, or ‘values’ cast in iron around a statue.”
This is later than it should have been. Here’s my response. pic.twitter.com/0h8iF6a1JR
— Chris Metzen (@ChrisMetzen) July 24, 2021
While this is all well and good, keep in mind that these two leaders and higher-ups have worked closely with World of Warcraft former senior creative director Alex Afrasiabi, who happens to be one of the names in the lawsuit.
While some question Metzen’s choice in picking him as his successor, Metzen replied that he didn’t know and only interacted with him during work hours.
“I loved working with him and jamming in story meetings. He was someone I thought very highly of on the job, but we never interacted outside of story jams and such […] So learning all this the past week has been just utterly shocking. Just reprehensible shit.”
Over at Morhaime’s side, former Blizzard employees found fault with his statement.
When I think back specifically to how many women Afrasiabi harassed and assaulted, myself included, and how many people were traumatized by Bridenbecker, the toxic environment that Pearce's EA's had for so many years… it's hard for me to think that you couldn't have enabled it.
— Cher Scarlett (@cherthedev) July 24, 2021
While I appreciate this Mike, I also know there was no way you didn’t know how toxic (for example) the two Robs were. I was there, I know you knew on some lvl, but in the end we didn’t matter to you. I’ve spent the better part of 10 yrs recovering from my time working at Blizzard
— Connie Griffith (@gamedevconnie) July 24, 2021
— Kristin (@Kristin_wrote) July 23, 2021
Could this be a case of convenient ignorance? Or just adding fuel to the fire that is possibly going to raze Activision Blizzard’s current reputation, especially when both men were running the company at the time during their tenure? It’s hard to say. Running a big company for so many years means it’s hard to keep tabs of what’s going on while you’re trying to make successful games, but it’s still no excuse to let behaviour like this run rampant, or even god forbid let it slide. At the very least, both leaders have responded to this in kind.