In an interview with Axios Gaming on September 17, the design director on the upcoming Diablo II remake explained that folks trying to decide if they should buy the game should “do what they feel is right.” Many players don’t want to support Activision Blizzard games after a recent lawsuit made public horrible stories and claims of abuse and harassment mostly targeting women at the company.
Diablo II Resurrected is the first major release from Blizzard since a damning lawsuit was filed on July 20 by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing after a years-long investigation turned up stories of multiple women suffering daily harassment and abuse while working at Activision Blizzard.
Diablo II Resurrected was announced back in February 2021, before the lawsuit, and is being developed by Vicarious Visions using the original source code and gameplay of the classic action RPG first released by Blizzard back in 2000. The studio was not specifically named in the suit and has in the past worked on non-Blizzard/Activision titles, but the lawsuit and the fallout that followed have affected the team at Vicarious Visions.
“It was definitely very troubling to hear these types of things,” design director Rob Gallerani explained, “And we really wanted to support our colleagues and our co-workers.”
The lawsuit included horrible stories of abuse and after the suit became public, Kotaku learned of a hotel suite that was reportedly a booze-filled meeting place where many would pose with an actual portrait of convicted rapist Bill Cosby while smiling.
Since these stories and reports have surfaced, numerous former and current Blizzard higher-ups have apologized, with some leaving the company including Blizzard President J. Allen Brack. Games like World of Warcraft and Overwatch have also removed mentions and references to people named in the various claims and the lawsuit. And Activision itself seemed quick to hide its logo and company name during the announcement of the latest Call of Duty.
As a result of this and all the controversy, Gallerani told Axios that Vicarious Visions did a full scrub of Diablo II Resurrected to see if any references, names, or quests needed to be removed or changed. According to him, nothing was found.
After the lawsuit became public and stories of harassment and abuse continued to be shared online by women and men, many players have struggled with buying the companies’ games or boycotting them.
Gallerani’s comments to Axios seem to leave the decision up to players.
In August, Kotaku reached out to employees at Blizzard and Activision about if they supported fans boycotting upcoming games. Some didn’t respond. Others didn’t want their comments to draw attention away from the ABK Workers Alliance’s current demands.