California’s recently filed lawsuit against Activision Blizzard may have affected the cadence of reveals and releases for some of the publishers products. A new Overwatch map that was supposed to get a reveal yesterday was quietly pushed aside as the focus and conversation shifted to the allegations made against Activision Blizzard in the lawsuit, namely a discriminatory “frat boy” culture that fails to treat women and minorities with equality or respect.
The new Team Deathmatch map, Malevento, is set in Italy, and can currently be found on the PTR (Public Test Realm). According to a now-deleted article from Dexerto (archive link here), the map was supposed to get a reveal yesterday, July 22 with its PTR release, eventually scheduled for a full release on August 17th. Whether or not that full release remains on the calendar is now up in the air, though the new map is still available on the PTR.
It’s not clear why Dexerto deleted the article, but it seems to have been an exclusive “first look” reveal of the new map partnered with Blizzard, and was pulled as the conversation shifted to the lawsuit. We don’t know if the decision was made by Blizzard or Dexerto to withdraw the article. TheGamer notes that all of the official social media accounts associated with Activision Blizzard, including all studios and games, have been completely silent since news broke of the lawsuit on Wednesday this week.
While Activision Blizzard has publicly denied the allegations made in the DFEH lawsuit, multiple current and former employees of the company have shared their own stories—both personal and witnessed—of harassment and discrimination via Twitter and other channels. This has also opened up a broader industry-wide conversation about the male-dominated cultural undercurrent that is present in the world of game development.
Since its initial response to the DFEH lawsuit and internal emails urging employees to handle and report any instances of harassments or discrimination internally—which many don’t trust the company to handle properly—Activision Blizzard hasn’t yet made any public apologies or commitments to change. It’s unclear how this newfound spotlight will impact the company’s various upcoming reveals and releases. Call of Duty: Warzone and Black Ops Cold War are set to move into Season 5 on August 11th. A Call of Duty 2021 reveal is reportedly happening later in August using Warzone as the platform. A little beyond that, Diablo II Resurrected is scheduled to release on September 23.
Activision Blizzard can’t get back to hyping its games and releases without addressing the “frat boy” elephant in the room. Judging by the silence of the company’s various social media accounts and pulling the Overwatch map reveal, it knows this very well. What that response is, however, is the big question. Critics, employees, and other members of the games industry have not been satisfied with the company’s rather dismissive response to the very serious allegations made in the lawsuit. People are calling for deep systemic change from the top to root out the discriminatory culture and won’t be satisfied with platitudes.
Ubisoft recently came under fire for similar allegations of harassment and abuse, and reports have indicated that despite promising to reform, satisfactory changes have not been made at the company as perpetrators remain in high-level positions.[Source: TheGamer]