Blizzard’s development team is in a process to remove “inappropriate references” from World of Warcraft. This decision comes a week after the US state of California filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for discriminatory and sexually abusive behavior.
According to the World of Warcraft team, the changes are currently being worked on. In the coming days, players will see multiple changes appear in Shadowlands and World of Warcraft Classic. The developers won’t go into more detail, but say the references are “not appropriate for our world.” The team says it will regain trust through actions and says it shares the community’s vision of “creating a place where people of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and backgrounds thrive and can proudly make it their home.” to mention’.
In the statement, Blizzard also says the past few days have been a time of reflection for the World of Warcraft team. The company says it is listening to the “brave women who have stepped forward and shared their experiences.” That is probably a reference to, among other things, the letter from more than 2,600 Activision Blizzard employees expressing their dismay at the company’s negative response to the allegations. The company argued that the allegations are often distorted or completely false and accuses the complainants of not having spoken to the company before turning to authorities. The current statement about the changes to World of Warcraft does not directly address this official response. With the current statement, Blizzard will likely also indirectly target the employees who will be stepping down from work Wednesday at the Blizzard campus in Irvine, California in protest at the official response from executives.
The California lawsuit was filed by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which allegedly spent two years investigating the situation in the workplace. It found that Activision Blizzard discriminates against women in various ways when it comes to equal opportunities around pay, promotions and other aspects of work. There would also be a culture in which women are sexually intimidated and there is a ‘frat-boy culture’. The lawsuit specifically refers to a female employee who committed suicide, noting that she had to deal with ‘intense sexual harassment’. There is a thread on Reddit that contains quite a few reactions and experiences from female ex-employees in particular.
Four days ago, former company executives such as Chris Metzen and Mike Morhaime hear from you on this matter. Both apologize. Morhaime says he is very sorry, ashamed and claims to have failed. He also acknowledges that harassment and discrimination exist within the industry.
Update, 13.13: According to Wowhead, for the time being these are references to former senior creative director Alex Afrasiabi.