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Batman Arkham Developer Rocksteady Responds To Harassment Claims

Illustration for article titled iBatman Arkham/i Developer Rocksteady Responds To Harassment Claims
Image: Warner Bros.

Rocksteady Studios released a statement on Twitter today addressing recent claims that it failed to respond to concerns about sexual harassment at the studio, saying it “dealt with issues raised” in the past, and is committing to work with an independent third-party to address any new complaints that might come up in the future.

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On August 18, the Guardian reported that back in 2018, several female employees at Rocksteady signed a letter addressed to the studio citing concerns about sexual harassment, including behavior like groping and unwanted advances. According to the Guardian’s report, there were some employees who did not think Rocksteady took enough action in response to the issues raised in the letter. In today’s statement, Rocksteady disputes that, writing “In response to the initial communication, we met with all our female staff, we listened, and we dealt with the issues raised.”

The studio’s statement went on:

All formal complaints were thoroughly investigated, addressed appropriately and a number of serious measures were taken in response to the issues that were surfaced, including discipline for termination of staff.

Since then, we have introduced new ways of ensuring we are making good on our commitment to inclusion, such as asking all female staff to provide feedback about the portrayal and behavior of characters in the games we make. We are dedicated to listening and improving, and have employed specialists to help further enhance equity and representation at Rocksteady.

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In addition to these past actions Rocksteady says it’s taken, the studio also announced that it is now working with an “independent third-party to confidentially speak with all employees” about any issues they’d like to report. The studio also said it will be reaching out to all former female employees from the last two years as part of this process.

Following the Guardian’s initial report, a former senior writer on Rocksteady’s upcoming Suicide Squad game, Kim MacAskill, came forward in a video on YouTube that described her experiences at the studio and concerns over how harassment allegedly went unaddressed there. “99 percent of the devs in that studio are some of the nicest people who I really care about,” MacAskill said in the video, while at the same time calling on management to change how it handled complaints, in part so women felt more empowered to come forward with them in the first place.

A day after the Guardian’s report, and prior to releasing its own statement, Rocksteady shared what it said was an “unsolicited” letter from some of the female employees still at the studio who had signed the original 2018 letter. In it, the women said that the studio had taken certain steps at the time, including meetings and workshops, to address their concerns.

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This all comes two months after Assassin’s Creed publisher Ubisoft was rocked by allegations of misconduct across the company, which resulted in several high profile resignations, departures, and firings, as well as outside firms coming in to conduct investigations.

Rocksteady is set to reveal Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, its first new game since 2015’s Arkham Knight, at Warner Bros. DC FanDome event tomorrow night. 

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at ethan.gach@kotaku.com

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DISCUSSION

jim-spanfeller-ceo
Jim Spanfeller, CEO

Hi Ethan,

While I appreciate the sentiments raised I think there needs to be a greater focus on the fact companies are people too and that Rocksteady clearly did a lot more than wants to be let on by the media as their shared letter shows.

In an unrelated note here is a letter I received just the other day from the staff here at G/O Media:

Kind Regards,

Jim