Once upon a time, Activision Blizzard was the highly respected developer of world-conquering smash-hits like World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Overwatch. It’s safe to say those days have passed, with the company now known for the sexual harassment, assault, and psychological traumatization of its employees.
This all came to light in a bombshell lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The lengthy document revealed horrifying details of how women have been treated at the company, with one employee apparently being driven to suicide by what happened to her. The company is now in full damage control mode, with Blizzard president J. Allen Brack leaving the company earlier this week, following several other high-profile departures.
Also coming under a lot of fire is Activision Blizzard’s vice president for corporate affairs, corporate secretary, and chief compliance officer Fran Townsend, who was the assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism to George W. Bush and vociferously defended his administration’s use of torture, which included waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and forced nudity.
Townsend has been widely criticized for her reaction to the lawsuit. Her initial response was to dismiss it as “meritless” in an email to staff, a boneheaded move that resulted in a mass walkout at the company. Things didn’t improve from there, when she decided to tweet “The Problem With Whistleblowing” over the weekend. This drew further heat and she began mass-blocking anyone criticizing her. Now she’s deleted her account altogether.
When pressed about this, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson clarified that this was her personal account and it wasn’t a company decision to delete it.
The long-term consequences of this report are as yet unknown, though millions of players are deserting World of Warcraft in favor of its rival Final Fantasy XIV and various boycotts of the company’s other games are in action. It seems like nothing less than a complete clean-out of the execs is going to fix the problem, as right now Activision Blizzard looks rotten to the core.