Three long-serving Activision Blizzard developers have reportedly been let go, following allegations that the company fostered a culture of sexual harassment and discrimintation in an ongoing lawsuit. Activision Blizzard have confirmed that Diablo 4's director Luis Barriga, lead designer Jesse McCree, and World Of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft have all left the company, though they haven't explicitly provided a reason why.
Yesterday, anonymous sources told Kotaku of the departures, which was announced internally to the developers before being made public. An Activision Blizzard spokesperson later confirmed that the trio had left the company, saying:
"We have a deep, talented roster of developers already in place and new leaders have been assigned where appropriate. We are confident in our ability to continue progress, deliver amazing experiences to our players, and move forward to ensure a safe, productive work environment for all."
Barriga had worked at Blizzard since 2005 on World Of Warcraft and the Diablo games. With his departure from Diablo 4, which is still in development and doesn't yet have a release date, it's currently unknown who'll step in to lead the project.
According to Kotaku, both McCree (who's also the namesake of Overwatch's cowboy hero) and LeCraft were pictured in BlizzCon's "Cosby Suite", a hotel room which was also referenced in the Activision Blizzard lawsuit. "Afrasiabi was so known to engage in harassment of females that his suite was nicknamed the 'Cosby Suite' after alleged rapist Bill Cosby," the suit says.
These aren't the first high-profile developers to leave the company either: Blizzard Entertainment's president J. Allen Brack stepped down last week, as did senior vice president of HR Jesse Meschuk. All of these departures follow statements made by ActiBliz CEO Bobby Kotick in an open letter to employees, investors and the public (via The Verge), saying they company were "immediately evaluating managers and leaders" and "anyone found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences will be terminated."
For further context on Activision Blizzard's current drama, they were sued by the California Department Of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in July for creating a workplace culture that's "a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women". In the weeks that followed, thousands of current and former employees signed a letter condemning the company's "abhorrent and insulting" response to the suit, after which staff held a walkout in protest of the alledged toxic working environment.