It’s a day that ends in “y,” which means there’s another new development in the ongoing Blizzard sexual harassment and sexual discrimination scandal. This time the story revolves around Frances Townsend, the company’s president for corporate affairs, who readers will recall sent out a spectacularly combative internal memo that drew a letter of condemnation from employees. IGN reports that Townsend is no longer the executive sponsor of the ABK Women’s Network, a group for female employees at the company.
In a statement, Townsend said she “believes in doing what’s right for the Network, and will continue to support and advance the work of the Network as best she can.” While her removal from the ABK Women’s Network is confirmed, it’s important to point out that she has not left the company and is still employed by ActiBlizz.
Townsend’s departure from the network comes after she denounced the California lawsuit, and by extension the claims of the company’s whistleblowers and victims, in a leaked internal memo that read very similarly to Blizzard’s initial response to the suit that called its claims outdated and unprovable. And last week, she provoked Twitter drama when she subtweeted an article villainizing whistleblowing that resulted in backlash from workers on the platform, which led her to block Blizzard employees and journalists and then ultimately delete her own Twitter account – of her own volition, according to Activision.
Last week more than 3,000 current ABK employees signed an open letter asking, among other things, for Fran Townsend to step down as sponsor of the ABK Women's Network. We are glad she listened, and hope that this will be followed by leadership addressing employees' other demands.
— ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) August 7, 2021
In other employee departure news, beloved MMO composer Jeff Kurtenacker, who signed on with Blizzard only last year and is well-known around here for his work on the WildStar soundtrack especially, announced on Twitter that he has left the studio – and it sounds rather abrupt. “I have stepped down from my position at Blizzard Entertainment, and while I’m not sure what’s next for me, I’m looking forward to finding new projects and creative people to work with,” he writes.