- The game company behind “Call of Duty” and “Diablo” is being sued by the state of California.
- A two-year investigation into the company found a pervasive “frat boy” culture.
- Amid the investigation, a major annual fan event named “BlizzCon” has been cancelled.
“Call of Duty” publisher Activision is cancelling its annual BlizzCon fan event next February amid ongoing sexual harassment and misconduct investigations.
“We’ve decided to take a step back and pause on planning the previously announced BlizzConline event scheduled for early next year. This was a tough decision for all of us to make, but it’s the right one,” the company said in a blog post. “Whatever the event looks like in the future, we also need to ensure that it feels as safe, welcoming, and inclusive as possible.”
Activision, which is the parent company of “World of Warcraft” and “Overwatch” maker Blizzard Entertainment, is being sued by the state of California for fostering a “pervasive frat boy” culture where women are paid less for the same jobs that men perform, regularly face sexual harassment, and are targeted for reporting issues, the suit said.
Many of the accusations in the suit focus on Blizzard Entertainment, and some of the misconduct described by current and former employees is said to have happened at prior years of BlizzCon.
The event, held annually in California, has drawn tens of thousands of Blizzard fans together for several days of game reveals, exclusive opportunities to play unreleased games, and panels with Blizzard’s game makers.
It has been seen as a chance for uber-fans of Blizzard’s wildly popular games to get together, cosplay as their favorite characters, and directly interact with the people who make the games they love. It was also, according to a Bloomberg report from August, an opportunity for Blizzard’s “rock star” male developers to potentially turn their fans into sexual partners.
“They will wrangle up the cosplayers or the girls or whoever they see at BlizzCon,” Christina Mikkonen, a six-year veteran of Blizzard who left in 2019, told Bloomberg.
In the weeks following the announcement of the lawsuit, Activision employees staged a walkout and demanded changes at the company. Dozens of employees have since been let go, Activision said.
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