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Call of Duty studio head quits after sexual harassment accusation report

Treyarch co-lead Dan Bunting has left the Call of Duty: Black Ops studio

A military helicopter prepares for landing in Black Ops Cold War Image: Treyarch, Raven Software/Activision
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

The co-head of Call of Duty developer Treyarch, Dan Bunting, has left the studio after a Wall Street Journal investigation into a sexual harassment claim against him from 2017. Bunting’s departure is part of a larger story about Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick’s awareness of and response to serious sexual harassment allegations at the publisher’s owned studios, including Sledgehammer Games and Treyarch.

Bunting was the subject of an internal investigation in 2019 over accusations that he sexually harassed a female employee in 2017, according to the Wall Street Journal. The result of that investigation recommended that Bunting be fired, the Journal reports, but Kotick intervened and Bunting was allowed to keep his position.

An Activision spokesperson told the Journal that “other disciplinary measures” were imposed on Bunting, and the Journal reports that he left Treyarch after the newspaper inquired about the accusation and investigation. An Activision spokesperson confirmed Bunting’s departure in an email to Polygon.

A photo of Treyarch’s Dan Bunting in front of artwork for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Photo: Activision

Bunting was an 18-year veteran of Treyarch, having worked on a half-dozen Call of Duty games and serving as co-studio head alongside Mark Gordon. Treyarch’s most recent game, and Bunting’s, was 2020’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, but the Santa Monica, California-based team also worked on this year’s Call of Duty: Vanguard, developing the Zombies mode for the Sledgehammer-led production.

Activision Blizzard and its studios continue to reckon with the fallout from a lawsuit filed in July by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. That suit alleged that Activision Blizzard fostered a “frat boy culture” that allowed for gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at the company and its studios. Several top executives, including former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, were named in the lawsuit for knowing about and enabling the alleged behavior. Activision Blizzard now faces multiple lawsuits and federal investigations into how it handled harassment claims at the company.

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