New exposé reveals still more layers of sexual harassment and discrimination at Blizzard

    
48
Over and over.

Bloomberg has yet another piece up on the ongoing Activision-Blizzard sexual harassment and discrimination scandal, this one interviewing “more than 50 current and former employees” at the company and opening with the story behind the 2018 departure of CTO Ben Kilgore, Mike Morhaime’s then-“heir apparent.” When Kilgore’s replacement was asked what happened, he apparently told employees, “Don’t sleep with your assistant. But if you’re going to sleep with your assistant, don’t stop.” Needless to say, speculation about Kilgore and company assistants then ran rampant, only enhanced by the fact that he was referred to (by title) in the California lawsuit filed in July – a lawsuit that Activision reps have maintained is full of inaccurate and dated information but very much doesn’t seem to be.

The rest of the article is sadly going to sound very familiar to anyone watching the scandal; it recounts women being “accosted for dates,” groped at office parties, “subjected to alcohol-fueled hazing rituals,” subjected to references to rape in professional discussions, and “watching male colleagues use company events as a venue to solicit sex,” which when reported to HR went unaddressed. Author Jason Schreier also adeptly points out that multiple executives dated or married subordinates at the company, including Mike Morhaime, J. Allen Brack, and Frank Pearce, setting an awkward example for everyone else. (Chris Metzen isn’t mentioned, but he is also among that group.)

Morhaime is specifically called out; employees interviews confirm the general sentiment that he was beloved inside the company but that his “warm leadership style could be a blind spot” as he was “shielded from the misbehavior or that he gave offenders the benefit of the doubt, extended them too many chances or let them walk over him.”

The piece also homes in on the egotism and machismo that permeated Blizzard culture in the aughts and led certain male developers at the company to think of themselves as rockstars – with all the perks that entails. And of course, there’s the long-running push-and-pull over compensation at the company and how much control Activision has.

“Some Blizzard staff refer to Activision as the Eye of Sauron. With budget cuts constantly looming, managers of each department have jockeyed for resources. As a result, some are reluctant to report internal problems and risk drawing unwanted attention to their teams from corporate overlords, current employees said.”

We’ve got a full recap of the scandal in the financial report from earlier this week, or you can check out all of our coverage so far piece by piece:

Source: Bloomberg
Update
And the horrorshow continues: WAPO now has another expose up with interviews with Blizzard workers. HR doesn’t come off too well in this report either. “They were almost like a gang that would ruin your career if you reported certain individuals,” one employee reported.

“‘Blizzard had this promise, that was kind of this Camelot promise, of this really fun place to work in, and you’re working on some of the world’s best games, and you’ve got this really creative bunch of people,’ said one former male employee who held a senior leadership position. ‘But underlying all that was this unspoken part of the company, that there were all these bad things happening and getting either swept under the rug or ignored. And I think a lot of people are trying to process that.'”

Alex Afrasiabi, Ben Kilgore, and Tyler Rosen are all named in the piece as being senior staffers removed in the last few years for their behavior. Rosen hasn’t come up much, but he, unlike most of the men referenced in the piece, actually responded to WAPO’s request for comment in response to the story that he and four other staffers shared a hotel room at an industry event in 2014; one of the staffers was a woman who alleged he sexually assaulted her. “I was a part of the problem that plagues Blizzard and the wider gaming industry,” he now says. “I was given a final warning [in 2016] related to an incident in 2014 and fired in 2018 for a separate instance of harm and violation that I caused. Blizzard could not talk about my termination as a matter of policy, so I exited quietly which helped me avoid public accountability, perpetuated the culture of silence, and downplayed the experiences of survivors.”

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Narficus

If you want another layer of discrimination, including blatant racism, check out ¶ 40 of the lawsuit along with the EEOC’s investigation prompted from formal complaints like this one from about two years ago.

Reader
Crafty_Youth5227

OMG, this is so disgusting. But I am not surprised by any of this. When wow was at its peak everyone thought of these guys as gods on just about every gaming rag or website. They need to fire every one of them. Clean the house up from top to bottom. I know this won’t happen but if one brave woman would show up to be interview on a news network it would put a face on it. Then they won’t be able to say they are fixing it and do nothing.

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Bryan Correll

Soon we will reach the scandal event horizon, a point at which scandal has become so dense that nothing can escape.

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Armsman

Jesus H Christ. The entire current upper management of Blizzard needs to go; and Bobby Kotick of Activision needs to go with them.

The sad thing is while I believe criminal charges should be brought against certain individuals, yeah that probably will never happen.

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Eugeniu INFO

Unsubscribed. Despite my love for their games, I have doubts they will manage to keep up with what made their games so good before, considering what is going on inside their company.

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styopa

Not to be too pointed, but if you think Blizzard is the only massively successful company in which stuff like this is either ignored, hastily settled with non disclosures, or tacitly condoned by management members who are themselves sometimes the perpetrators…well, you haven’t seen much of the workplace.
And men aren’t the only ones I’m talking about; a non trivial number of women who use their assets to advantage at work are, in effect, enabling and condoning this behavior.

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somber_bliss

Just because others speed doesn’t mean you get out of a ticket. Stop excusing their behavior and ask for accountability here and everywhere.

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styopa

Who’s excusing anyone’s behavior?

I’m hoping this shattering of a relative icon of the gaming shows these other companies and managers that they can’t rely on success/popularity to hide forever.
And not only in this industry. Maybe (even if only for reasons of self-preservation) they’ll actively work to improve their environments.

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Patreon Donor
Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

Blizzard is doing this stuff so they’re not giving them money. Not a tough nut to crack, homie.

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Bruno Brito

but if you think Blizzard is the only massively successful company

No one thinks that.

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styopa

It’s the only one we’re talking about right now. I get that. But personally I catch a whiff of “once we fix this cesspool it’ll be better”
It will be better, but that’s very much not the only cesspool.

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Bruno Brito

I mean, yeah, the work never ends. Still, i don’t know why people feel the need to point that out, we know that. It didn’t end with Riot, it won’t end with Blizzard.

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Eugeniu INFO

Though I do realize this might be the case with other companies as well, I do grant them the presumption of innocence. Blizzard at this point doesn’t even deny the accusations. When this happens to other companies, I will take the same approach.
In general, I hope the good parts of Blizzard (talents) will survive and the company will change 180 degrees. If that happens, I will resubscribe. Until then, though, I will not support their internal attrocities.

Reader
styopa

Blizzard is – deservedly, by this point the preponderance of evidence shouldn’t be in question – screwed.

I genuinely feel bad for both the players who’ve focused a fair amount of their free time and energy on the game, and moreso the innocent devs (including the women) who are like going to suffer as the business suffers, for the bro-antics of some managers and above who thought they were immune to consequences.

Reader
Narficus

I love how everyone is giving you shit while failing to acknowledge that it took what was reported on getting this bad for the masses to stop shoveling Blizzard brand into their mouths on schedule long enough to pay attention for more than three seconds.

Last year, during the corporate BLM-fest using US taxpayer money, Blizzard’s problems with racism were overlooked. Okay then. So yes, until people stop acting like everything is okay around [brand] while playing as normal, yes, these things will keep happening. It’s called vigilance, and quite frankly, it’s been slacking when people go “Well, yeah, Blizzard has had these problems for a long time” and yet it took until this point for the public scathing rebukes on the company by the Fourth Estate.

That’s another reason why employees were afraid of speaking out, because the fans and press around Blizzard games were filtering out some of the unfavorable so that people did have a better impression of Blizzard.

That didn’t stop anyone from being fanboy until now, when it got too bad, and THAT is what people are trying to deflect. The attitude has been that these problems were already there at Blizzard, but because it didn’t threaten the games then big whoop. Now it is threatening the games and now people care.

Message received loud and clear.

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kalech

For those blaming all of this on Activision, it was going on before then as well. And putting the blame solely on Activision is a way for people to, subconsciously or not, remove the blame from Blizzard. As much as I dislike Activision, we shouldn’t redirect blame because it allows people to not be held accountable for their own decisions and actions.

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blahlbinoa .

Blizzard is dead, only those who are huffing the copium the hardest can’t see it. Many have seen it and the article proves it. Activision has full control on Blizzard and WoW will never be as good as it was in the past. It’s gone.

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Bruno Brito

Considering that WoW’s culture has been present for way before Activision, if you go by the investigations findings, whatever good WoW was, it was really not worth the pain people went through.

Blizzard was never worth a pebble of shit.

Ernost
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Ernost

I just remembered about those make-a-wish tours they did. How fucked up is it that they invited dying kids to a place where all this was happening?

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McGuffn

That tyler rosen quote is sizzling.