Man with gun representing shooty game dev.
Call of Duty studio Treyarch just issued the latest in a long series of murky apologies from Activision-owned studios regarding the ongoing investigation into company-wide sexism, harassment, discrimination, and bullying. In a tweet issued today, a little over a month after the Wall Street Journal report on sexual harassment scandals at the company which was published around the same time as studio co-head Dan Bunting’s departure, Treyarch says there’s no room in its culture for sexism, harassment, racism, bigotry, discrimination, or bullying.
Treyarch’s tweeted statement reads as follows.
Our goal as a studio is to make awesome games for the world to enjoy. Having the privilege to pursue that endeavor is made possible because of Treyarch’s people: We are a studio comprised of smart, talented, world-class creative professionals who seek to perform at our best. Our culture has no room for sexism, harassment, racism, bigotry, discrimination, or bullying. As we move forward, providing a safe, diverse, inclusive working environment so that all may thrive will be our highest priority. Everyone at Treyarch is drawn to game development because we possess a deep love for the artistry of video games and the magic that can create moments that matter. This is a moment that matters and it starts by being better.
The studio’s statement comes as the fallout from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s lawsuit and investigation into the toxic culture at Activision Blizzard continues to collect around the base of CEO Bobby Kotick’s annoyingly resilient throne.
Today’s message is the first official statement from Treyarch since the departure of long-time studio co-lead Dan Bunting. According to the damning Wall Street Journal report from mid-November, Bunting was involved in a 2017 incident in which he allegedly harassed a female coworker after a night of drinking. An internal investigation of the incident in 2019 concluded that Bunting should be fired, only for CEO Bobby Kotick to intervene, having Bunting undergo counseling instead. Bunting, who’d been co-lead of Treyarch since 2003, left the studio last month as the Wall Street Journal report was making the rounds.
A day after the original statement released through official Treyarch channels, Miranda Due, a producer at the company, clarified that women there came together to write and publish it. She continued:
We are the ones that have been impacted the most by what has happened, and we are fighting for a better future. Change has to happen from within and we are doing our best and would appreciate support.
In the thread, she noted that the statement came a month later because the situation is “hard and takes time to process.”
Notably, after some media coverage, some workers at the company reflected further on the larger company statement.
“We understand your frustrations with all that is going on,” Treyarch senior game designer Joanna Leung wrote on Twitter. “Trust me, WE are too. Sure, we can list all our initiatives to be better here at Treyarch, but actions speak louder than words and this is our first step. Let us show you what we can do and changes that we can make.”
“There is an active lawsuit, the studio cannot say everything we want them to say,” wrote Treyarch associate online engineer Joshua Louderback on social media. “We will keep fighting for more.”
As apologies go, Treyarch’s is pretty standard. Without citing specific instances, the studio renounces bad things and vaguely promises to do not-bad things. Unfortunately, it comes several days too late to make it into our Year in Gaming Apologies article, but there are plenty of Activision Blizzard entries in there already. Hopefully, Treyarch will indeed start “being better” so it doesn’t need to issue another one of these anytime soon.
Update: Dec. 22, 9:54 p.m: We’ve updated this article to reflect more recent social media comments from workers at Treyarch regarding the official company statement. The article has been further updated to clarify the circumstances and timing of Dan Bunting’s departure from the company. An attorney for Bunting claimed to Kotaku that “his departure resulted from unlawful actions from the company” and that they “have contacted Activision to address its unlawful conduct toward Mr. Bunting.”