The scandal continues to escalate.
This summer will be a memorable one for Activision Blizzard, but mainly for Blizzard Entertainment, but not in a good way, as details of toxic studio culture, sexual harassment and inhumane overtime have come to light in a rather lousy light for both the publisher and the studio. Several significant sponsors of Acti-Blizz games such as Overwatch and Call of Duty have already backed out of official tournaments, developers have been let go, including members of the so-called ‘Cosby suite’, and in this context, Overwatch’s McCree is being re-branded, as the eponymous engineer, white-bearded Jesse McCree, was also part of that group. The next step follows this: some former World of Warcraft employees will also be dropped.
An announcement appeared on World of Warcraft’s official Twitter yesterday, informing us of the latest developments. It’s no secret that the scandal and the changes that have been made as a result of it have prompted the decision to include “ideological” changes in addition to technical fixes and content updates in patch 9.1.5 for the current Shadowlands expansion. “[The update] also includes updates that will help make the game’s environment better for the community, including changes that better reflect our shared values, make in-game user reports of harassment more visible, and more harshly punish disruptive behaviour,” the release reads.
In the official material, Blizzard didn’t specify what “changes that better reflect our shared values” we can expect in the patch, which will activate next week. Still, when contacted by PC Gamer, a studio representative said that Jesse McCree, Luis Barriga, and Jonathan LeCraft would be removed from the game, who worked for Blizzard for more than 16 years on the Diablo series and World of Warcraft, and who was associated with the infamous room named after comedian-actor Bill Cosby, who was also accused of sexual assault, where alcohol was spilt down throats, and more derogatory comments about women were made.
According to PC Gamer’s list, McCree has been named after no less than 5 World of Warcraft characters. A town named after him, Barriga’s, was the NPC Senior Scrivener Barriga, and the Crafticus Mindbender and Torturer LeCraft characters speak for themselves. So they will be renamed, and references to them removed from World of Warcraft, specifically in the patch next week. According to the official announcement, this is being done at fans’ request, just like the removal of NPC and item references to former creative director Alex Afrasiabi, who was fired from Blizzard last June and whose name is also the sexual harassment accusation.
Developments in both Overwatch and World of Warcraft followed a high-profile leadership change: Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, accused of not taking abuse reports seriously enough, stepped down in early August, replaced by two leaders promising significant changes in Mike Ybarra and Jen Oneal.
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