The explosive discrimination lawsuit recently filed against Activision Blizzard has been a major PR black eye for the Call of Duty and WoW publisher, but thus far, we haven’t heard much about any real-world repercussions. Now-former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack fell on his sword, but thus far, that’s been it. Well, it seems heads are beginning to roll at Blizzard, and some high-profile names have been claimed.
According to an insider report from Kotaku, Diablo IV director Luis Barriga, Diablo IV lead designer Jesse McCree, and World of Warcraft senior designer Jonathan LeCraft were let go today. All three men have a long history at Blizzard – Luis Barriga worked on WoW, Diablo III, and Overwatch before taking over Diablo IV, and Jonathan LeCraft has been working on WoW since almost the beginning. Perhaps the most prominent of the three men is Jesse McCree, who’s been with Blizzard since the mid-2000s and is the namesake of the Overwatch character McCree.
While Kotaku hasn’t been able to confirm the exact reason for Barriga, LeCraft, and McCree’s firings, they’re almost certainly tied to the recent lawsuit. Both LeCraft and McCree are pictured alongside already-fired WoW creative director Alex Afrasiabi in a photo taken in the latter’s infamous “Cosby Suite” at BlizzCon 2013, where booze and harassment are said to have flowed freely. Some sources have insisted the Cosby Suite nickname referred only to the room’s distinctive carpet, said to resemble an ugly “Cosby sweater,” not his later sexual assault trial, but others have disputed that.
For those who haven’t been keeping up, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has filed suit against Activision Blizzard, alleging gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft publisher. Activision Blizzard’s official response to the suit accuses the DFEH of “distorted […] and false” descriptions and insists the picture painted is “is not the Blizzard workplace of today.” An open letter objecting to the official response was signed by thousands of current and former Acti-Blizz employees, and a walkout was recently staged. Acti-Blizz CEO Bobby Kotick would eventually apologize for the company’s initial response, calling it “tone deaf.” As mentioned earlier in this article, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack has been replaced by relative newcomers to the studio, Mike Ybarra and Jen Oneal.
Activision Blizzard have confirmed the recent firings, telling Kotaku “Luis Barriga, Jesse McCree, and Jonathan LeCraft are no longer with the company.”