A former co-founder and CEO of Blizzard, Mike Morhaime, has apologized for the sexual harassment and gender discrimination that allegedly occurred at the gaming company when he headed the organization. He admitted that he had failed women that were harassed under his watch and promised to use his new influence to bring changes within the gaming industry.
Morhaime headed video game studio Blizzard for 28 years, and the gaming company was reputable for producing successful games such as World of Warcraft, Diablo, StarCraft, Hearthstone, and Overwatch among others. He helped to form the studio after college in 1991 but left to establish another gaming company called Dreamhaven in 2018 before game-maker Activision acquired the studio in 2008. The new company was then called Activision Blizzard, but they operate largely as different entities.
The news that workers were sexually molested and discriminated against while Morhaime was head of Blizzard broke on July 21 when the Department for Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a complaint at a court in California last week. The complaint emboldened former workers at the studio to voice out their pains over their experiences at the workplace. This caused the former CEO to apologize to the women, saying he had failed them and would do everything in his power to make amends.
“To the Blizzard women who experienced any of these things, I am extremely sorry that I failed you,” Morhaime wrote. “I hear you, I believe you, and I am so sorry to have let you down. 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.”
The former Blizzard head also acknowledged that sexual harassment and discrimination exist within the gaming industry and that leaders have failed to keep women and other vulnerable groups safe. He said leaders have also not done enough to “stamp out toxicity and harassment in any form” and that real people have been harmed and hurt with terrible experiences that misshaped their lives.
“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 stated. “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.”
The management of Activision Blizzard has however debunked the allegations, choosing to insist that everything happened in the past. “The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past,” a spokesperson for the company told Kotaku. “The picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today.”