Rocksteady has issued a new statement following sexual harassment accusations.
The UK developer of the Batman Arkham games and the upcoming Suicide Squad game took to Twitter to say it had brought in an independent third-party to confidentially speak with all employees at the studio who wish to do so, and it would be getting in touch with female employees who had left the company in the last two years to ask them to speak to the interviewers.
Here is our statement: pic.twitter.com/ssyzNWfyhB— Rocksteady Studios (@RocksteadyGames) August 21, 2020
On 18th August 2020, The Guardian published a story about a November 2018 letter sent to Rocksteady's bosses that highlighted various instances of inappropriate behaviour that went largely ignored, after having heard from one of those who signed.
According to the report, 10 women out of the company's then 16 female staff reportedly put their name to the letter. (Rocksteady currently lists having 239 employees total.)
The letter included complaints "in the form of unwanted advances, leering at parts of a woman's body, and inappropriate comments in the office", "discussing a woman in a derogatory or sexual manner with other colleagues" and "slurs regarding the transgendered community".
Speaking anonymously to The Guardian, the woman said she had come forward to speak about the letter now due to a lack of action from Rocksteady in response.
Following the publication of the article, Kim MacAskill, a senior writer on the Suicide Game who left Rocksteady in 2019, came forward in a YouTube video to expand on the issues discussed in The Guardian article, and to also criticise the studio for failing to properly act on complaints.
A day after The Guardian's report went live, Rocksteady issued a statement on Twitter saying it had received an unsolicited letter from some of the women staff still working there and who had signed the 2018 letter. Eight out of the 10 people who wrote the 2018 letter are still at Rocksteady, the studio said, and seven of those issued this new letter following The Guardian's report. This new unsolicited letter said that following the 2018 letter, "immediate action was taken" that resulted in a series of meetings with the women of the studio.
While working on our response to the recent news, we received the following unsolicited letter. pic.twitter.com/sozmsp6u3C— Rocksteady Studios (@RocksteadyGames) August 19, 2020
Now, on the day Warner Bros. is set to reveal Rocksteady's new Suicide Squad game, the developer has issued a new statement, insisting it "dealt with the issues raised" by the 2018 letter at the time. It said "a number of serious measures were taken", including discipline or termination of staff.
Rocksteady added that since then, it began asking all female staff to provide feedback on the portrayal and behaviour of characters in its games. The Guardian's source had criticised Rocksteady's representation of women, citing the highly sexualised design and costuming of characters such as Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn in previous games.
"We continue to learn," Rocksteady said, "and we are working diligently to increase the ways we support everyone."