More than 20 current Activision Blizzard employees, including World of Warcraft chief game designer Jeremy Feasel, have publicly criticized the company's response to the sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit filed against it earlier this week. . Some WoW developers also stopped working today “in solidarity with the women who showed up,” Feasel said.
The lawsuit, filed by a California government agency, alleges that the company's women have faced "constant sexual harassment" and discrimination, especially women of color. Activision Blizzard executives' response has been inconsistent. In its first statement to the press, the company called the lawsuit "distorted and, in many cases, false" and characterized the agency behind it as a group of "inexplicable bureaucrats." In an internal email, compliance manager Fran Fran Townsend also said the lawsuit "presented a distorted and false image" of Activision Blizzard and criticized it for "including incorrect, old, out-of-context stories."
Blizzard president J Allen Brack and Activision president Rob Kostich's internal emails sounded different and considered the alleged behavior in the lawsuit to be "unacceptable" and "disturbing." and that neither claimed that such behavior had occurred in the company.
On social media, dozens of former employees expressed their support by the stories told in the lawsuit and, in some cases, to corroborate details. Now, more than 20 current Activision Blizzard employees have expressed public disapproval of Activision Blizzard's response to the lawsuit, and dozens more have expressed support in retweeting statements from their co-workers.
Many of us will not work today in solidarity with the women who showed up. The statements made by ABK do not represent us. We believe that women will continue to strive to do better and hold others accountable. Actions speak louder than words.July 23, 2021
"Many of us will not work today in solidarity with the women who showed up," wrote the lead game designer Jeremy Feasel. "[Activision Blizzard] statements don't represent us. We believe in women and will continue to strive to do better and hold others accountable. Actions speak louder than words."
The World of Warcraft team has been "experiencing a mixture of outrage, grief and pain," said the narrative designer. Steve Danuser, who went on to say that he is interested in fixing business and industry, not "corporate shit statements."
Like many of you, our team has gone through a mixture of outrage, grief and pain. We’ve been listening to each other, caring for our friends, and finding ways to support and care for each other. Now we have to roll up our sleeves and fix that shit. As a company. As an industry.July 23, 2021
Many more employees expressed similar feelings:
“I’m unhappy with the corporate response so far,” the game designer said Brian Holinka. "I don't think it represents me or what I believe in. Many of us have said it internally. It's worth saying it publicly."
"These last few days have made me angry at the COMPANY I work for, but so proud of the people I work with," tweeted a user named Burk, who works at Blizzard as an associate producer. "Everyone gathers, listens, speaks out against atrocious responses and demands action. We are here, angry and not so easily silenced."
These last few days have made me angry about the COMPANY I work for, but so proud of the people I work with: everyone is meeting, listening, protesting against the atrocious responses and demanding action. We are here, angry and not so easily silenced.July 23, 2021
"I'm on the side of the victims [Activision Blizzard] and I think their stories," tweeted the Blizzard UX researcher Nikki Crenshaw. "To say that these stories are 'really wrong' or 'false' is a slap in the face to current and former employees and does not represent my core values."
"I really hope that Blizzard publishes a statement on this situation that I agree with and can support, and not with more legal defense positions," he wrote. Kyle Hartline, a server producer and live operations in World of Warcraft. "Because what has been said so far is unacceptable and doesn't represent me. And I know I'm not alone in feeling that way."
"I've heard horror stories that I know are true and should not be ruled out," he tweeted. Elsbeth Larkin, a software engineer for World of Warcraft. "The fact that [Activision Blizzard] rejects it not once, but twice is horrible."
In addition to personal statements, many developers also tweet about claims that say, "This tweet is mine and does not represent my company's views. I can't stand any attempt by AB to reduce the damage. "We need to listen to and support the women in our business, both now and in the past."
At the time of writing, Activision Blizzard has not publicly responded to these expressions of distrust and frustration from employees. We’ve asked for feedback from the company and we’ll have more as the story unfolds over the next week and beyond.