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Diablo 4 game director out at Blizzard

Luis Barriga and lead designer Jesse McCree depart embattled studio

A photo of former Diablo 4 game director Luis Barriga in front of the game’s logo
Luis Barriga
Photo: Blizzard Entertainment
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Veteran Blizzard Entertainment developers Luis Barriga, the director of Diablo 4, and Jesse McCree, one of the game’s lead designers, are no longer employed at the game company, Kotaku reported Wednesday. World of Warcraft designer Johnathan LeCraft has also reportedly left the company.

Activision Blizzard confirmed the departures in a statement to Polygon.

“We can confirm Luis Barriga, Jesse McCree, and Jonathan LeCraft are no longer with the company,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said. “We have a deep, talented roster of developers already in place and new leaders have been assigned where appropriate. We are confident in our ability to continue progress, deliver amazing experiences to our players, and move forward to ensure a safe, productive work environment for all.”

The personnel changes at Blizzard come just weeks after a lawsuit against the company alleged a toxic workplace environment that subjected female employees to gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

According to Kotaku’s report, Barriga, McCree, and LeCraft were removed from Blizzard Entertainment’s internal employee directory and Slack. Images and developer profiles for Barriga and McCree were also removed from Blizzard’s press website this afternoon.

Barriga had been at Blizzard since 2005, and he worked on the developer’s World of Warcraft expansions and Diablo games. His current project, Diablo 4, does not have a release date.

A photo of developer Jesse McCree in front of a Diablo 4 logo
Jesse McCree
Photo: Blizzard Entertainment

McCree — whose name was borrowed for Overwatch’s cowboy hero — had been a lead level designer at Blizzard since 2005, according to his LinkedIn profile. He was pictured in recently published photos of Blizzard developers’ so-called Cosby Suite, a nickname for a hotel room mentioned in a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard; he also appeared in screenshots of a text message thread with other Blizzard staffers about the suite. According to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, former World of Warcraft creative director “[Alex] Afrasiabi was so known to engage in harassment of females that his suite was nicknamed the ‘Crosby Suite’ [sic] after alleged rapist Bill Crosby [sic].”

The departures of those three Blizzard developers follow two other highly publicized exits: former Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack and senior people officer for Blizzard Entertainment and Activision Blizzard Jesse Meschuk.

In July, Activision Blizzard was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) for creating a “frat boy culture” that allowed gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment to proliferate. Several top executives, including former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, have been described by the lawsuit as knowing about and enabling the alleged behavior. The DFEH said it conducted a two-year investigation into Activision Blizzard before filing the suit.

Immediately following the lawsuit, Activision Blizzard made an official statement in which it said the lawsuit included “distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past.” Activision Blizzard executive (and former George W. Bush homeland security advisor) Frances Townsend called the lawsuit “truly meritless and irresponsible” in a statement that’s since been criticized by current and former staff. Thousands of Activision Blizzard employees signed a letter asking for Townsend to step down as the executive sponsor of the women’s network. Following the letter, Activision Blizzard employees in California and elsewhere walked out of work in protest of leadership response.

Update: This story has been updated with confirmation and a statement from Activision Blizzard.

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