Bungie CEO apologizes for toxicity and sexism in the workplace

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Published by FileTrekker 1 year ago , last updated 1 year ago

Bungie's CEO Pete Parsons has gone on record to apologize after a damning report by IGN revealed workplace misconduct including toxicity and sexism at the studio, acknowledging that the studio hasn't done enough to ensure a safe, diverse workplace for its employees.

He did however state that the studio had made positive changes, before adding that "it is not enough, and it has taken too long." 

In September of this year, Parsons had released a statement that Bungie was committed to "fostering a safe, welcoming environment for everyone" and that it was "making conscious and constant improvements through listening, self-awareness, improving our workplace and our systems, and by acting on behalf of our people." The statement appeared to have been prompted by the still-ongoing, but unrelated, issues of misconduct at Activision Blizzard.

That statement didn't sit well with employees according to the IGN report, who told of first-hand experiences of toxicity at the company, with 26 different employees alleging that there was an overtly sexist, "boys club" culture at the company, which also enforced heavy crunch, and actively protected those who were at the centre of the abuse.

The report claimed that the narrative team would be forced to work upwards of 100 hours a week at points, with requests for new team members to help reduce the stress frequently denied. The company allegedly told team members to stop the practice, but some staff members continued to crunch in order to avoid having to cut features. The allegation lines up with the delay of Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, which has apparently been delayed until early next year to ensure "the health" of the teams working on it.

The HR department at Bungie has also allegedly covered up malpractice at the company, with one staff member stating that "HR has never been there to protect employees. They've always been there to protect the company. I've watched it happen a few times at Bungie, where someone went to HR and things went completely sideways for them." 

Another employee talks about alleged sexism at the company, which has allegedly manifested in the female characters in Destiny 2. "I could go on for a long time about all the ways women have been made to stand by as the men on the team have written characters in baffling, unrecognizable ways," said one staff member. Another points to the character of Dervim Kay, a character within Destiny 2.

The character is gay, but Bungie demanded references to that fact be cut in order to continue to sell the game in Russia and China. In the end, a compromise was reached and the lines were "softened", but originally, the company had tried to remove any references to his sexuality altogether. 

In a new statement, Parsons stated that he wanted "to apologize to anyone who has ever experienced anything less than a safe, fair, and professional working environment at Bungie," adding that he was "not here to refute or to challenge the experiences we're seeing shared today by people who have graced our studio with their time and talent. Our actions or, in some cases, inactions, caused these people pain. I apologize personally and on behalf of everyone at Bungie who I know feels a deep sense of empathy and sadness reading through these accounts." 

"As CEO, it is my job to factor both the past and the future and be accountable for all of it, here and now. Speaking with the team at Bungie, reading the stories, and seeing both known and newly surfaced accounts, it is clear we still have work ahead of us." 

The Bungie Foundation has suspended its Game2Give charity indefinitely while they "digest this news and support" employees, although the website will remain available until December 15th.

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