Former Blizzard Executives Mike Morhaime And Chris Metzen Respond To Harassment Lawsuit

"I am ashamed. It feels like everything I thought I stood for has been washed away."

Following California's recent lawsuit against Activision Blizzard that documents allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination against women, Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime and Diablo co-creator Chris Metzer--both of whom are no longer working at the company--have responded.

Morhaime released a statement Friday night in which he said the lawsuit was "very disturbing and difficult to read."

"I am ashamed. It feels like everything I thought I stood for has been washed away. What's worse but even more important, real people have been harmed, and some women had terrible experiences," he said.

Morhaime was at Blizzard from the beginning, spending 28 years with the company before departing in 2018. He said he tried to establish an environment that was "safe and welcoming for people of all genders and backgrounds," though he acknowledged that "it was not perfect."

"The fact that so many women were mistreated and were not supported means we let them down. In addition, we did not succeed in making it feel safe for people to tell their truth. It is no consolation that other companies have faced similar challenges. I wanted us to be different, better," he said.

Morhaime went on to say that harassment and sexism are prevalent across the games industry, and it is the responsibility of leadership teams to "keep all employees feeling safe, supported, and treated equally regardless of gender and background."

"It is the responsibility of leadership to stamp out toxicity and harassment in any form, across all levels of the company. To the Blizzard women who experienced any of these things, I am extremely sorry that I failed you," he said.

Morhaime said he understands that his response amounts to "just words," but he still wanted to share a statement and address the women who were mistreated at Blizzard. "I hear you, I believe you, and I am so sorry to have let you down. I want to hear your stories, if you are willing to share them. As a leader in our industry, I can and will use my influence to help drive positive change and to combat misogyny, discrimination, and harassment wherever I can," he said.

"I believe we can do better, and I believe the gaming industry can be a place where women and minorities are welcomed, included, supported, recognized, rewarded, and ultimately unimpeded from the opportunity to make the types of contributions that all of us join this industry to make," he said. "I want the mark I leave on this industry to be something that we can all be proud of."

As for Metzen, who left Blizzard in 2016, he posted a response on Twitter that began with an admission: "We failed, and I'm sorry."

"To all of you at Blizzard, those of you I know and those of you whom I've never met, I offer you my very deepest apologies for the part I played in a culture that fostered harassment, inequality, and indifference," Metzen said. "There is no excuse. We failed too many people when they needed us because we had the privilege of not noticing, not engaging, not creating necessary space for the colleagues who needed us as leaders. I wish my apology could make any kind of difference. It can't."

Metzen said he has spent time reading comments and stories from people who were mistreated, and he admitted that he "was not present enough to ask, to listen, to hear these stories when it mattered."

"I'm left feeling the same shock, disgust, and anger that many of you are--and having trouble reconciling the place I knew, loved, and worked in for so long with the hard reality that has been presented over the past few days. It's like staring at two totally different worlds. But it's not. It's just the one world, and the yawning disconnected between my perception from the top and the crushing reality many of you experienced fills me with profound shame."

Like Morhaime, Metzen acknowledged that "words are cheap," and he didn't want to make any kind of "grand, sweeping promises." Instead, he said that "accountability starts with people. Not corporations, or platitudes, or 'values' cast in iron around a statue."

Metzen said that individuals, and in particular men, need to do more to have greater "awareness, compassion, and empathy for the women around us--in the whole of our lives, not just at work." If men don't do that, then "nothing changes," Metzen said.

"It's not enough just to say, 'I see you' and 'I hear you' when terrible things happen to women in and out of the workplace," Metzen added. "We have to be present enough and willing enough to ASK them what their experiences are day to day--and then do everything we can to support them with the respect, dignity, and opportunities they deserve."

The lawsuit is seeking to demand Activision Blizzard to adhere to policies for workplace protections in California, while it also seeks to have the company pay money in the form of back pay, lost wages, and unpaid wages for female employees.

Mike Morhaime Statement:

"I have read the full complaint against Activision Blizzard and many of the other stories. It is all very disturbing and difficult to read. I am ashamed. It feels like everything I thought I stood for has been washed away. What’s worse but even more important, real people have been harmed, and some women had terrible experiences.

I was at Blizzard for 28 years. During that time, I tried very hard to create an environment that was safe and welcoming for people of all genders and backgrounds. I knew that it was not perfect, but clearly we were far from that goal. The fact that so many women were mistreated and were not supported means we let them down. In addition, we did not succeed in making it feel safe for people to tell their truth. It is no consolation that other companies have faced similar challenges. I wanted us to be different, better.

Harassment and discrimination exist. They are prevalent in our industry. It is the responsibility of leadership to keep all employees feeling safe, supported, and treated equitably, regardless of gender and background. It is the responsibility of leadership to stamp out toxicity and harassment in any form, across all levels of the company. To the Blizzard women who experienced any of these things, I am extremely sorry that I failed you.

I realize that these are just words, but I wanted to acknowledge the women who had awful experiences. I hear you, I believe you, and I am so sorry to have let you down. I want to hear your stories, if you are willing to share them. As a leader in our industry, I can and will use my influence to help drive positive change and to combat misogyny, discrimination, and harassment wherever I can. I believe we can do better, and I believe the gaming industry can be a place where women and minorities are welcomed, included, supported, recognized, rewarded, and ultimately unimpeded from the opportunity to make the types of contributions that all of us join this industry to make. I want the mark I leave on this industry to be something that we can all be proud of."

Chris Metzen Statement:

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