Three more senior staff have departed Blizzard as the company deals with the fallout from DFEH lawsuits, allegations of misconduct and “frat boy” culture, and action taken by employees and shareholders.
Blizzard has confirmed that Luis Barriga (director of Diablo IV), Jesse McCree (Diablo IV designer and Overwatch character namesake) and Jonathan Lecraft (designer on World of Warcraft) have all left, though stopped short of giving a reason. We do not know whether this trio were laid off, fired, resigned, or anything about their departure, except that they have.
What we do know is that two of the three were implicated in some of the events at the studio that led to the lawsuit being filed against Activision Blizzard by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. McCree and LeCraft were spotted in a series of photographs taken in the “Cosby Suite” from the 2013 BlizzCon fan expo, a bizarre hotel room shrine to Bill Cosby that was mentioned in the lawsuit and then publicly revealed and reported on by Kotaku.
Kotaku’s reporting also implicated McCree in some of the seedy text messages that went back and forth between staff at the event, the room being that of former World of Warcraft designer Alex Afrasiabi, who was specifically named in the lawsuit and had been fired for misconduct by Blizzard in 2020.
While neither McCree or LeCraft were named in the lawsuit, the timing of their departure from Blizzard will certainly be linked to the lawsuit in some way, whether Blizzard has pushed them out of the door or they chose to leave under the cloud of the allegations.
Barriga has not been publicly connected to the “Cosby Suite” and allegations of misconduct. We can hope that he was not involved in any impropriety.
At the end of the day, this all leaves just as many questions as there were to start, especially as many parties have been dissatisfied with Activision Blizzard’s responses and actions over the last few weeks and want clarity.
Activision Blizzard workers have united first in a public letter calling for change, then a one-day walkout, and then under the ABK Workers Alliance to try and force change within the company. At the same time, shareholders have sued Activision Blizzard for not properly informing them about the multi-year investigation into the workplace or dealing with the issue, and have also echoed the ABK Workers Alliance with their own letter, condemning the choices made by the company executives to, amongst other things, hire union-busting firm WilmerHale to conduct its third party HR evaluation.
Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard has tried to carry on with business as usual for their game releases. After a few days of silence, they have begun hyping up Season 5 of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, are set to kick off the Diablo II Remastered open beta (which has also riled up fans for removing a core networking function), and are expected to make major game announcements in the coming weeks.
via Ars Technica