Recently, the state of California launched a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for creating a culture of abuse and inequality for female employees. Now, gaming giant Bungie has used Twitter to put out a statement condemning what they call “a persistent culture of harassment, abuse, and inequality that exists in our industry.”
It is immediately clear that Bungie is reacting to the news about Activision Blizzard, as they write, “While the accounts in this week’s news are difficult to read, we hope they will lead to justice, awareness, and accountability.” But the developer wasn’t afraid to look inward as well. “It’s our responsibility to ensure this type of behavior is not tolerated at Bungie at any level, and that we never excuse it or sweep it under the rug.”
Of course, Bungie has more of a dog in this fight than most developers. They worked with Activision Blizzard on both Destiny games. However, they split from Activision Blizzard in January 2019, and Bungie retained the rights to Destiny.
Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard has issued a withering denial of the accusations in the lawsuit from California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), saying, “The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past.” Activision Blizzard also criticized the DFEH’s inclusion of an employee suicide in its lawsuit, which suggests the suicide occurred as a result of sexual harassment.
“We are sickened by the reprehensible conduct of the DFEH to drag into the complaint the tragic suicide of an employee whose passing has no bearing whatsoever on this case and with no regard for her grieving family,” Activision Blizzard said. “While we find this behavior to be disgraceful and unprofessional, it is unfortunately an example of how they have conducted themselves throughout the course of their investigation. It is this type of irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State’s best businesses out of California.”
Where does this leave Bungie and their own withering statement? Some see this as a cynical PR move, a way to distance themselves from a troubled developer they once partnered with. But others see Bungie’s statement as a genuine attempt to create a better gaming industry culture that is free of misogyny, harassment, and inequality toward women.