Less than a week after winning a $500,000 case against a harasser accused of threatening a Destiny 2 community manager, developer Bungie says its team can't speak publicly because "devs who aren't even CMs are still being harassed."
Not for the first time, a player on the Destiny subreddit recently requested that Bungie make more regular use of the dev-backed Destiny 2 Team Twitter account which was set up around eight months ago in order to share more insights with the community.
"I'm not saying you should expose your employees to people who might actually harm them," the player reasoned, and you can already hear the 'but' coming on here. "As someone who has been threatened (and actually almost attacked) at the workplace, I completely understand where you guys are coming from. That said, it would be beneficial for everyone if you used the account more than you currently do."
A response from the official Bungie Help Reddit account explained the studio's stance on the issue and the relative quiet from the Team account.
"Appreciate the feedback," the post begins, echoing countless CM posts before it. "Unfortunately, devs who aren’t even CMs are still being harassed just because they work at Bungie, so using the CM account on Reddit will put a bigger target on all of the CM’s backs.
"I completely understand the want to go back to how we used to respond all the time here, but that time has passed. Until everyone can feel safe again, I wouldn’t expect to see many responses from us here for the foreseeable future.
"However, just because we aren’t responding often doesn’t mean we aren’t still looking at feedback," the studio continues. "As a legend once said, 'we're listening,' and while we can’t always act on the feedback, we do share it with stakeholders every single week. So please, keep it coming. You may find us responding more on our own Help forums, so please report any issues to us there."
A Redditor who's since been downvoted into the abyss argued that harassment is "just part of life" even if "no one deserves it," and that "basing your PR strategy on the actions of 0.1% worst actors is strange to me."
Bungie shot back: "We don’t accept that being harassed is 'just part of life.' This kind of mindset is unhealthy, and we aren’t going to put ourselves in danger for a video game, much less Reddit."
Destiny 2's community, like many MMO, FPS, and indeed video game communities, has a long and colorful history of senselessly attacking developers. Bungie's efforts to make LGBT employees visible in developer diaries have been met with all sorts of vitriol, for example, and lead developers have previously been driven off platforms like Twitter by harassment over balance changes or Exotics. These bad actors represent a small portion of the community, but even if only a small portion of an audience hurls garbage at you every single time you come on stage, eventually you're gonna stop showing up.
Bungie's handling of the harasser who now owes $500,000 was praised by other game developers, who hope to see it set a precedent for protecting employees from all-too-common abuse.