Bungie makes it easier to sue over harassment following Activision scandal

The 'Destiny' developer is distancing itself from its former publisher.

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PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 31:  A gamer plays the video game 'Destiny 2' developed by Bungie Studios and published by Activision during the 'Paris Games Week' on October 31, 2017 in Paris, France. 'Paris Games Week' is an international trade fair for video games to be held from October 31 to November 5, 2017.  (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
Chesnot/Getty Images

Bungie split from Activision a long time ago, but that isn't stopping the company from distancing itself from the sexual harassment scandal affecting its former publisher. The Destiny 2 creator is implementing a number of reforms that it hopes will foster diversity and inclusion, prevent harassment and clamp down if abuse takes place. Most notably, it's joining other tech companies in dropping the mandatory arbitration clause in employee agreements. It should be easier for harassment targets to sue and otherwise make their complaints public.

The company has also hired inclusion-oriented leaders, including a Chief People Officer and an as yet unnamed but "deeply experienced" director. Bungie is further reviewing its hiring practices to prevent biased selections, and is adding a third-party anonymous reporting tool (on top of existing options) to reduce the reluctance to flag harassment. CEO Pete Parsons added that half of Bungie's board, and four out of nine executives, were either women or from underrepresented demographics.

Parsons stressed that there was "more that can be done," and that there was no ideal ending. He felt it was important for Bungie to set an example for others, though, and was hopeful the game industry as a whole would improve its practices.

Bungie hasn't faced harassment allegations like Activision, Riot Games or Ubisoft. This appears to be a proactive step rather than a reaction to internal turmoil. All the same, the move illustrates the pressure on developers to rethink their anti-harassment strategies — studios like Bungie want to prevent incidents long before they lead to lawsuits and protests.

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