Ex-Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime has issued a statement on recent allegations about the company, saying: "I am ashamed."
This week, the State of California sued Activision Blizzard over what it alleges to be a "frat boy" culture that created "a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women".
The lawsuit alleges a culture of "constant sexual harassment", mainly at Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of World of Warcraft, Diablo and Overwatch.
Activision Blizzard has strongly denied the accusations, calling many of the claims distorted or false.
Morhaime co-founded Blizzard in 1991, when the studio was known as Silicon & Synapse, eventually becoming president in 1998, then president and CEO in 2007.
During Morhaime's time at the company Blizzard released gargantuan hits such as World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Hearthstone, and contributed billions of dollars to Activision Blizzard's bottom line. Morhaime left Blizzard in 2018 - a move that was widely seen as a significant blow for the company - and was replaced by current president J. Allen Brack.
Morhaime's statement is published in full, below:
"I have read the full complaint against Activision Blizzard and many of the other stories. It is all very disturbing and difficult to read. I am ashamed. It feels like everything I thought I stood for has been washed away. What's worse but even more important, real people have been harmed, and some women had terrible experiences.
"I was at Blizzard for 28 years. During that time, I tried very hard to create an environment that was safe and welcoming for people of all genders and backgrounds. I knew that it was not perfect, but clearly we were far from that goal. The fact that so many women were mistreated and were not supported means we let them down. In addition, we did not succeed in making it feel safe for people to tell their truth. It is no consolation that other companies have faced similar challenges. I wanted us to be different, better.
"Harassment and discrimination exist. They are prevalent in our industry. It is the responsibility of leadership to keep all employees feeling safe, supported, and treated equitably, regardless of gender and background. It is the responsibility of leadership to stamp out toxicity and harassment in any form, across all levels of the company. To the Blizzard women who experienced any of these things, I am extremely sorry that I failed you.
"I realise that these are just words, but I wanted to acknowledge the women who had awful experiences. I hear you, I believe you, and I am so sorry to have let you down. I want to hear your stories, if you are willing to share them. As a leader in our industry, I can and will use my influence to help drive positive change and to combat misogyny, discrimination, and harassment wherever I can. I believe we can do better, and I believe the gaming industry can be a place where women and minorities are welcomed, included, supported, recognised, rewarded, and ultimately unimpeded from the opportunity to make the types of contributions that all of us join this industry to make. I want the mark I leave on this industry to be something that we can all be proud of."
Morhaime left Blizzard to form a new game company called Dreamhaven. Dreamhaven is made up of two separate studio teams - Moonshot and Secret Door - each led by former Blizzard talent.
On its website, Dreamhaven says it wants to "provide a safe place where developers, creators, and players can connect in meaningful ways".