Activision Blizzard has shed at least 20 staff as a result of harassment investigations

An "Activision" sign on the facade of one of the company's office buildings in LA.
(Image credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Audio player loading…

Activision Blizzard says that more than 20 employees have "exited" the company in recent months due to ongoing investigations into workplace harassment. Meanwhile, more than 20 employees have faced disciplinary action. This follows a ramping up of internal policy and process in response to California's bombshell lawsuit filing in July.

Distributed internally earlier this week, the letter from chief compliance officer Frances Townsend is now available online. According to the Financial Times (via The Verge), the list of "exited" or disciplined employees includes game developers and supervisors but no board members. In addition to these actions, Townsend writes that 19 new roles have been created in the Ethics and Compliance Team tasked with investigating complaints.

"In recent months, we have received an increase in reports through various reporting channels," Townsend wrote in her letter. "People are bringing to light concerns, ranging from years ago to the present. We welcome these reports, and our team has been working to investigate them, using a combination of internal and external resources. Based on the information received in the initial report, they are assigned into different categories, and resources are allocated to prioritize the most serious reports first.

"In connection with various resolved reports, more than 20 individuals have exited Activision Blizzard and more than 20 individuals faced other types of disciplinary action."

Some high profile departures (opens in new tab) in recent months include Diablo 4 game director Louis Barriga, lead level designer Jesse McCree and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft. Former WoW creative director Alex Afrasiabi, who was named in California's lawsuit (opens in new tab), left the company in 2020.

Since California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against the company in July, details of Activision Blizzard's "frat boy culture" have come thick and fast. As have the lawsuits and external investigations: the US Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting its own investigation "concerning the Company's disclosures regarding employment matters and related issues," but the affair has also led to everything from in-game name changes to employee walkouts

Here's the Activision Blizzard lawsuit controversy explained

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.