It has been confirmed by Blizzard through Kotaku that a handful of senior staff members were let go this Wednesday, the reason for their departure hasn’t been confirmed yet but the timing heavily implies that it’s due to the California harassment lawsuit against Activision Blizzard. These developers include Diablo 4 Game Director Luis Barriga, Blizzard Lead Level designer, Jesse McCree(hah), and World of Warcraft designer, Jonathan LeCraft. A spokesperson for Blizzard stated that:
“We can confirm Luis Barriga, Jesse McCree, and Jonathan LeCraft are no longer with the company,” They further wrote, “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.”
This also follows an image published by Kotaku that went viral of various Blizzard developers hanging out in a room called the “Cosby Suite”, one of them being Jesse McCree. McCree is easily the most familiar of these names due to the fact that one of the heroes in Overwatch is named after him, a fact that is forever going to age badly until they eventually decide to change it later down the line. It should be stated that the WoW team has openly announced on Twitter that all “non-appropriate” references will be removed so we can assume it should be the case for other Blizzard IPs as well. The “Cosby Suite” was a hotel room owned by Alex Afrasiabi, a long-time senior Blizzard developer. As reported by Kotaku it was reportedly a booze-filled meeting place where many, including Afrasiabi, would pose with an actual portrait of Bill Cosby while smiling.
It was also a hot spot for informal networking at BlizzCon, where people looking to make inroads at the company would go to meet and hang out with some of its top designers. Afrasiabi was also one of the few people that were explicitly mentioned in the California lawsuit by name, alongside President Allen. J Brack, due to his infamous record of harassing and groping female employees. Other people shown in the Cosby Suite include Jonathan LeCraft and Cory Stockton, both lead designers for Blizzard. It was later claimed that the Cosby Suite was a joke that started before the rumors and the allegations about Bill Cosby being a sexual predator became widely known but there are also supposedly sources inside Blizzard that have claimed otherwise.
As of right now Blizzard is still in a state of disarray with development on World of Warcraft completely halted as well as their HR Head leaving following the lawsuit. It is also not known what’s going to happen to Diablo 4 as it stays deep in development and who is going to take the reins of the project now that Barriga has left the company.