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Former Blizzard CEO Says Allegations are 'Disturbing and Difficult to Read'

Former Blizzard CEO Says Allegations are 'Disturbing and Difficult to Read' - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 02 August 2021 / 1,745 Views

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over what is described as a "frat boy" culture at the video game giant. Female employees are subjected to constant sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation, according to the lawsuit.

Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime who worked at the company for for nearly 30 years, before he left in 2018, has read the allegations and finds it "very disturbing" and is "ashamed."

"I have read the full complaint against Activision Blizzard and many of the other stories," Morhaime said. "It is all very disturbing and difficult to read. I am ashamed. It feels like everything I thought I stood for has been washed away. What’s worse but even more important, real people have been harmed, and some women had terrible experiences.

"I was at Blizzard for 28 years. During that time, I tried very hard to create an environment that was safe and welcoming for people of all genders and backgrounds. I knew that it was not perfect, but clearly we were far from that goal.

"The fact that so many women were mistreated and were not supported means we let them down. In addition, we did not succeed in making it feel safe for people to tell their truth. It is no consolation that other companies have faced similar challenges. I wanted us to be different, better.

Former Blizzard CEO Says Allegations are 'Disturbing and Difficult to Read'

"Harassment and discrimination exist. They are prevalent in our industry. It is the responsibility of leadership to keep all employees feeling safe, supported, and treated equitably, regardless of gender and background. It is the responsibility of leadership to stamp out toxicity and harassment in any form, across all levels of the company. To the Blizzard women who experienced any of these things, I am extremely sorry that I failed you.

"I realize that these are just words, but I wanted to acknowledge the women who had awful experiences. I hear you, I believe you, and I am so sorry to have let you down. I want to hear your stories, if you are willing to share them. As a leader in our industry, I can and will use my influence to help drive positive change and to combat misogyny, discrimination, and harassment wherever I can.

"I believe we can do better, and I believe the gaming industry can be a place where women and minorities are welcomed, included, supported, recognized, rewarded, and ultimately unimpeded from the opportunity to make the types of contributions that all of us join this industry to make. I want the mark I leave on this industry to be something that we can all be proud of."

California filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in the Los Angeles Superior Court after a two-year investigation. The lawsuit states leadership at Activision Blizzard has failed to address the issues of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

The female employees are subjected to "pervasive frat boy workplace culture," which includes "cube crawls." This is when employees "drink copious amounts of alcohol as they crawl their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees."


A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel dedicated to gaming Let's Plays and tutorials. You can contact the author at wdangelo@vgchartz.com or on Twitter @TrunksWD.


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30 Comments
Tridrakious (on 24 July 2021)

You think it's tough to read, just imagine the people who get harassed everyday.

  • +13
GoOnKid (on 25 July 2021)

We need more brave people that stand up against this shit.

  • +9
mjk45 GoOnKid (on 27 July 2021)

he obviously didn't stand up when he was needed.

  • +1
CaptainExplosion (on 24 July 2021)

Fuck Blizzard. I'll never buy any Activision Blizzard shit again.

  • +9
Azzanation CaptainExplosion (on 25 July 2021)

Unfortanunly this happens everywhere, boycotting isnt going to solve sexual harassment.

  • -3
hunter_alien Azzanation (on 25 July 2021)

True, but being vocal about using (or not) your wallet is nudging things in the right direction. Sure, it will take time and effort, but at least we started to go down that road.

  • +9

It helps if you're like me and you never liked Blizzard's shit to begin with.

  • 0
Ka-pi96 CaptainExplosion (on 26 July 2021)

Not really boycotting if you never bought their stuff in the first place though :P

  • +1
CaptainExplosion Ka-pi96 (on 26 July 2021)

Well now I have even less incentive to buy their shit than I would have.

  • 0
Azzanation hunter_alien (on 25 July 2021)

Boycotting will affect many others and wont affect afew individuals. You prefer to make 100 people suffer over a bunch of idiots? Because boycotting games will only make staff get laid off not punish the criminals.

  • -6
CaptainExplosion Azzanation (on 25 July 2021)

You have a point, but we don't know what else to do about the scumbag frat boys.

  • -1
Azzanation CaptainExplosion (on 25 July 2021)

There isn't much to do but report it and like what they are doing now, take it to court.

  • -2
CaptainExplosion Azzanation (on 25 July 2021)

But there's no guarantee that the courts will rule against these fratboy bastards.

  • 0
Azzanation CaptainExplosion (on 25 July 2021)

If the courts dont do anything about it than there are more issues pointing at the system.

  • -4
Tridrakious Azzanation (on 25 July 2021)

However, affecting the company's financials WILL make headlines. Boycotting can be used to draw more awareness to a problem and that's exactly what is going on now. People are standing up and saying "With this going on, I will not spend my money with your company.". That will definitely get the attention of board members and the government.

  • +3
Azzanation Tridrakious (on 26 July 2021)

Sexual Harassment is a crime, it has nothing to do with the buisness side. It is also everywhere not just at Blizzard. Boycotting Blizzard games will only get staff laid off not punish those doing the wrong thing. You rather hurt 100s of people and cost them their jobs just to sort out afew bad eggs?
Boycotting definitely wont work. Not everyone at Blizzard is a rapist and many work hard on the products you want to boycott. They have families to.

  • 0
Ka-pi96 Azzanation (on 26 July 2021)

Not really. If you're shoving that money up your arse or something instead, then sure. If you're just buying different games with it then the money is still in the industry, it's still going towards people's wages/jobs. -100 jobs at a shitty company and +100 jobs at a good company instead isn't a bad thing.

  • +1
Azzanation Ka-pi96 (on 26 July 2021)

Boycotting Blizzard games will only lead to Blizzard getting completely absorb by Activision or Blizzard staff to be laid off for failuring to profit. Sexual harassment wont be affected.

I am also pretty sure Blizzards HR department and Code of Conduct does not support sexual harassment. If by hurting others to get to your target is the goal than those people aren't much better.

Since this happens everywhere, you might aswell boycott every thing.

  • -2
Qwark CaptainExplosion (on 25 July 2021)

It's an issue that runs in the whole industry, better stop gaming all together then.

  • -9
GoOnKid Qwark (on 25 July 2021)

Sorry no offense but this sounds like a very bad excuse. Everybody does it so whatever. No, not whatever. It should be made public, the companies behind this deserve every backlash and the people behind it should be punished.

I'm sure you didn't mean it that way, though, but I just wanted to say that your response can be interpreted like that.

Edit: The same goes to Azzanation above.

  • +2
Qwark GoOnKid (on 25 July 2021)

Yeah but it also doesn't make sense to single out one company., this happens at pretty much every large company. Ubisoft and EA also have their fair share. Probably only a matter of time before it's reported within other big companies like PlayStation and Microsoft. Not everything is up to the consumers to fix.

This is an issue that runs deep and wide in the dark side of the gaming/tech world. Each of the companies where it is suspected this shit happens deserve a proper investigation and if it happens a major backlash, for not being able to provide a safe workspace. But that should come mostly from judges and it should be made sure the company feels the punishment.

So if you say company A is shit and should be boycotted because of this shit, the same should be said of company B. If it's likely the same happens at company C, then not buying their stuff because would probably be morally the right thing to do. In which case there is virtually not a single safe company to buy videogames from.

Not too mention the production chain of which of our favourite plastic boxes or components for our PC's are made from. Those production chains are probably full of corporate slavery, environmental issues and absymal working conditions.

  • 0
GoOnKid Qwark (on 25 July 2021)

Ok I understand your point. As for me, I stopped buying anything from EA years ago and now Activision has finally done enough shit for my liking so I'll never buy anything from them again until they fix themselves. I know it's insignificant to them, but it certainly feels good to me.

However, I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that all and every company is like that. Unless you have proof?

  • +1
Qwark GoOnKid (on 25 July 2021)

Bioware Activision hasn't made a game I am interested since the PS3 era. I very rarely buy games from EA and Ubisoft, the last one was Kingdom Battle. Hopefully the industry fixes itself in a relatively short amount of time or governments step in to make sure people can go to work safely, but I am a very sceptical, that this is the only or the last company where this happens.

  • +2
Ka-pi96 Qwark (on 26 July 2021)

They're not just being singled out, there's clearly enough evidence to warrant a state law suit against them for it. If/when that's true of any other company expect the same attention/criticism of them.

We don't even know if any other companies have problems and if they do if they're as bad as this. So you're saying we shouldn't criticise one company, with a bunch of evidence behind the accusations, just because other companies "might" have done something similar?

  • +4
AdvanceWebSolutions (on 25 July 2021)

Hard to believe they were oblivious to what was going on the whole time....they allowed this to happen.

  • +3
Jaicee (on 25 July 2021)

It's totally insane how commonplace this shit is. In fact, I saw a survey out of the UK earlier this year that suggested as much as 99.7% of the country's female population had experienced what they classify as sexual harassment or some form of abuse before on at least two occasions, and that 43% of women had even experienced penetrative rape at least twice! That kinda makes as sense to me because just about every woman I've ever met before -- my mom, her sisters, my grandmothers, my girlfriend, friends I made in school and at work, about every woman I've met online -- has relayed some kind of very clear-cut, unambiguously toxic and abusive experience like that before, specifically of a sexual nature. Hell, I've shared such a case that I experienced online with you guys here earlier this year (thanks for your help and support, btw) and would classify it as the tip of the iceberg in terms of my lifetime experiences.

Being as the whole point of sexual harassment, sexual violence, and such is humiliation, by definition it's not an easy thing for most people who experience it to talk about even in private, let alone report and try and make a publicly-visible case out of to people in a position to theoretically do something about it. The kinds of staggering statistics I see are what give me strength to talk about this kinda bullshit when I experience it anymore; just the knowledge that it's so commonplace. That knowledge has the opposite effect on many others though, who often will say it's just a natural, inevitable part and aspect of life you can't do anything about, that nobody will sympathize with you on, so why raise a fuss? It takes guts to do so is my point and I'd much rather hear from them than from the founder of the billion-dollar company responsible on the subject.

Mr. Morhaime is damn right that it's "no consolation that other companies have faced similar challenges"...why would you even include that line in your apology?...because the case of Blizzard seems distinctive in that not just every workplace out there features the kind of pervasive, toxic "frat boy" climate that I'm seeing described in that article and elsewhere. At my own workplace, and I just work at a grocery store, I've seen a female co-worker from over in the deli department rather aggressively pursued in a way she clearly disapproved of by none other than the at-the-time store director himself before, but I wouldn't classify it as a workplace culture nonetheless because shit like that seems to happen rarely and doesn't seem to be experienced by many of the women who work here. It's not the rule is my point. It may not exactly be a very rewarding place to work in other ways, but I don't experience sexual harassment at my workplace, for example. Or even online, I never experience any kind of harassment on many social spaces that I frequent. Like here, for example, even though I'm like the only woman here practically I still never experience sexual harassment (or at least nothing I'd classify as a serious or unambiguous case) from anyone. The type of painfully hostile, misogynistic climate being alleged to exist at Blizzard that we're talking about here is NOT just the inevitable result of men and women sharing a social space together or even of men being overwhelmingly predominant therein!

  • +3
Dahum (on 24 July 2021)

Such a sad thing to hear honestly.

  • +3
Chazore (on 25 July 2021)

Without the founding fathers and some vets, Blizz is basically nothing but a dead husk, and it's no wonder Activision allows this shit to thrive.

  • +2
mjk45 (on 27 July 2021)

he talks about what he thought he stood for being washed away as if it somehow eroded his good work in the area but then says he let them down , the fact is he oversaw blizzard through many decades of that work culture and is culpable.

  • +1
Ka-pi96 (on 26 July 2021)

"we did not succeed in making it feel safe for people to tell their truth"

Their truth? WTF? That sounds like somebody saying "sorry if you were offended" when saying something discriminatory (ie. I didn't have a problem with it so if you're offended it's your fault) instead of saying "sorry I said something sexist" (ie. I admit that I fucked up). There is no "their" truth. There's the truth, that's it.

  • +1