Activision Blizzard staff criticise lawsuit response in open letter

Almost 1,500 current and former staff signed the letter

Current and former Activision Blizzard staff have signed an open letter criticising the company for its response to the ongoing discrimination lawsuit.

Staff circulated the letter, which Bloomberg initially reported, yesterday following the news last week that the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing was suing Activision Blizzard over allegations of sexism and discrimination.

Almost 1,500 former and current employees criticised Activision Blizzard’s official response to the lawsuit. The letter states: “To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.”

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“We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault,” the statement adds.

The letter also specifically mentions Activision Blizzard executive Frances Townsend, who labelled the lawsuit “factually incorrect, old and out of context” in an internal email. Publicly, Activision also called the lawsuit “distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past” in a statement sent to The Verge.

California’s lawsuit, which involved two years of investigations, alleges that women were paid less than men and were not offered the same kinds of progression. According to the lawsuit, there is also a “frat boy” culture at the company in which men regularly subject women to “numerous sexual comments and advances, groping and unwanted physical touching, and other forms of harassment.”

A representative from the group behind the letter told Kotaku that they are now “working on [the] next steps.” As well as being sent to several media outlets, the group also sent the letter to Activision Blizzard’s management yesterday (July 26).

The lawsuit has had a knock-on effect in other areas of Activision Blizzard, as developers and ex-employees have spoken out against the company. Ex-president Mike Morhaime released a statement over the weekend in which he said he was “extremely sorry.”

World Of Warcraft developers have reportedly stopped working on the game since the allegations of harassment and sexism came to light. Senior System Designer Jeff Hamilton stated that Activision’s response to the lawsuit is making developers “unable to keep making a great game.”

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Bungie, who had previously published games through Activision Blizzard, also released a statement this week stating that the Destiny 2 developer will not “will not tolerate [harassment] and will confront it head on.”

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