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Activision Blizzard Studio Expresses Ambivalence About Diablo II Purchases in Wake of Lawsuit

Diablo II: Resurrected will be the first Activision Blizzard release since it was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Diablo II: Resurrected will be the first Activision Blizzard release since it was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. / Photo courtesy of Activision Blizzard

Diablo II: Resurrected's design director has said people should "do what they feel is right," when considering whether or not to buy the highly anticipated remake, referring to the lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard in July.

Diablo II: Resurrected launches Sept. 23, and will be the first game released by Activision Blizzard since the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued it for fostering a work environment of toxicity and harassment. It's been developed by Blizzard subsidiary Vicarious Visions, which was not implicated in the lawsuit.

"It was definitely very troubling to hear these types of things," Resurrected design director Rob Gallerani told Axios. "And we really wanted to support our colleagues and our co-workers."

Despite not being implicated in the suit, Gallerani said it had caused the Vicarious Visions team to reflect on its own processes and culture. Management spoke to employees about what could be done better, and Gallerani says the response was positive, but that studios are never permanently safe from the kind of toxicity outlined in the DFEH lawsuit.

"We heard a lot of really positive things, but I don't think that we ever get a pass on that," he says. "We always need to keep asking."

The DFEH lawsuit has triggered a re-evaluation of in-game content produced at Activision Blizzard studios, both for ties to now-disgraced developers and for possible sexist material. Gallerani says a similar check through Diablo II found nothing tied to specific developers that required changes, but certain character designs, including that of the Amazon warrior class, were altered to make them look more like warriors, rather than people who "rolled out of a nightclub," in Gallerani's words.