Jul 24, 2021 - Technology

Former Blizzard CEO says he "failed” women at the studio

Photo of executive Mike Morhaime, seen through a video camera's viewfinder
Image: Neville Elder / Getty Images

Mike Morhaime, who co-founded and worked at video game studio Blizzard for 28 years, has apologized publicly for toxic work conditions at his former studio, which is now the subject of a discrimination and harassment lawsuit by the state of California.

Why it matters: Morhaime is no longer at Blizzard, but was its leader for most of its existence and therefore was in charge when much of what is alleged in California’s suit would have occurred.

  • “It is the responsibility of leadership to stamp out toxicity and harassment in any form, across all levels of the company,” he wrote on Twitter.
  • “To the Blizzard women who experienced any of these things, I am extremely sorry that I failed you.”
  • “Real people have been harmed, and some women had terrible experiences.”

What they’re saying: Morhaime’s statement has been met with some gratitude that he said anything but also with criticism that so much happened on his watch.

  • Critics, including former Blizzard employees, said they found it implausible that Morhaime wouldn’t have been aware of the depth of the studio’s problems.

The big picture: Current management at Blizzard and sister company, Activision, have sent mixed signals in recent days.

  • Messages sent to employees have alternated between calling the allegations in the lawsuit “deeply disturbing” to slamming the department that brought them for bringing a “meritless lawsuit.”
  • Some Blizzard employees have publicly criticized the company’s harsher statements, saying they believe the allegations, according to a PC Gamer report.
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