Following this morning’s Supreme Court decision to overturn landmark abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade, video game and entertainment companies are beginning to speak out against the ruling, and in support of reproductive freedoms.
Having previously made a statement of support when the decision prematurely leaked in May, Bungie has updated its blog post on the subject to announce it was implementing a travel reimbursement program for employees and their dependents to access reproductive healthcare that may not be available in their states.
Previously, Bungie also encouraged its audience to donate to charities including URGE (Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equality), Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, In Our Own Voice, and Trans Lifeline to help support rights to essential healthcare.
Bungie CEO Pete Parsons also tweeted the following with regard to the decision:
“This is a difficult day for our country. Good people will be hurt by this decision. Bungie will do whatever we can to protect our people and ensure they can live happy, healthy lives.”
This is a difficult day for our country. Good people will be hurt by this decision. Bungie will do whatever we can to protect our people and ensure they can live happy, healthy lives.
— pete parsons (@pparsons) June 24, 2022
Bungie isn’t alone in speaking up. Insomniac Games tweeted a statement as well which reads, “We are human beings who make games. Reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy are human rights.”
— Insomniac Games (@insomniacgames) June 24, 2022
Sony Santa Monica tweeted similarly a few hours later: “We believe that bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom are fundamental human rights. Santa Monica Studio will continue to uphold these values and support our team members in receiving access to the care they need.”
— Santa Monica Studio – God of War Ragnarök (@SonySantaMonica) June 24, 2022
And Naughty Dog, Guerrilla, Bend Studio, PlayStation London, Media Molecule, and Sucker Punch have also spoken up with similar language:
— Naughty Dog (@Naughty_Dog) June 24, 2022
— PlayStation London Studio is Hiring! (@LondonStudioHQ) June 24, 2022
— Bend Studio is Hiring! (@BendStudio) June 24, 2022
— Sucker Punch Productions Ghost of Tsushima (@SuckerPunchProd) June 24, 2022
— Media Molecule (@mediamolecule) June 24, 2022
— Guerrilla (@Guerrilla) June 24, 2022
These statements are notable given the stance of their (and, soon, Bungie’s) parent company Sony when the draft opinion first leaked earlier this year. At the time, PlayStation president Jim Ryan asked PlayStation employees to “respect differences of opinion” and reportedly discouraged internal studios from making public statements. Insomniac pushed back internally, resulting in both Insomniac and PlayStation donating $50,000 each to the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP).
Among Us developer Innersloth has also joined in with links to a number of organizations providing reproductive and essential healthcare, alongside its own statement:
“Innersloth supports reproductive choice and liberty. The ending of the constitutional right to abortion is a gender, racial, economic, and human rights disaster for both present and future generations. There are so many people and local organizations to support. If you can, len them your voice, time, action, money, or privilege. We stand with everyone affected.”
Abortion Funds (split btwn 80+ diff funds): https://t.co/vf0taWU7w4
The Brigid Alliance: https://t.co/WOE61Szauv
Trans Lifeline: https://t.co/14SkEGJvuf
In Our Own Voice: https://t.co/9Wl4xuoQin
Plan C: https://t.co/WBwtXg1JNx pic.twitter.com/OB2zT8ORE9
— Innersloth (@InnerslothDevs) June 24, 2022
Devolver Digital, publisher of games like Card Shark, Inscryption, and Death’s Door, shared the following short statement:
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) June 24, 2022
And Guild Wars 2 creator ArenaNet, which was one of the first companies to speak out when the draft ruling initially leaked, reiterated its support as well:
— ArenaNet (@ArenaNet) June 24, 2022
Ubisoft has also tweeted support for reproductive rights, and additionally pointed to a longer statement penned by chief people officer Anika Grant and VP global diversity and inclusion Raashi Sikka from June 15 that expresses support not just for reproductive freedoms but also for the LGBTQ+ community amid the potential impact of this decision.
— Ubisoft (@Ubisoft) June 24, 2022
“On behalf of Yves and all of Ubisoft’s leadership team, we want to be clear: at Ubisoft, we believe that women’s rights are human rights, trans rights are human rights, and equal rights for all are essential to creating a world where everyone can be their authentic selves and thrive,” the longer statement reads. It goes on to reiterate that it is reviewing its benefits packages for US employees to ensure that women and LGBTQ+ workers and their families “will have access to the quality healthcare [they] need.”
Fellow AAA publisher EA has not issued an express statement against the overturning in keeping with its prior reported internal statements that it was “inclusive of all points of view” and thus would not issue a public statement either way. However, it did publish a letter it sent to employees today announcing it too would offer expanded travel health benefits in the wake of the ruling, and encouraging employees to participate in company social impact programs.
More and more companies have joined them throughout the day, including AAA developers such as Bethesda and Niantic:
— Bethesda (@bethesda) June 24, 2022
— Niantic ? (@NianticLabs) June 24, 2022
And mid-sized and smaller developers such as Unbroken Studios, Airship Syndicate, Team Meat, Cold Iron Studios, That’s No Moon, Future Club, and Hi-Rez Studios.
In addition to individual studios and publishers, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has also issued a statement, alongside a list of suggested resources for reproductive rights, care, and support, which includes the Center for Reproductive Rights, Human Rights Watch, Planned Parenthood, National Women’s Law Center, and United States of Women. Its statement is as follows:
The International Game Developers Association supports and empowers game developers around the world in achieving fulfilling and sustainable careers. We believe bodily autonomy and choice over one’s own reproductive and healthcare matters are pertinent to achieving this mission. One must be in control of their own health matters in order to successfully manage their career and life.
As a global organization, we understand that not all individuals experience or have access to freedoms and liberties pertaining to bodily autonomy, and we oppose efforts to weaken existing liberties. We are deeply concerned by increased government interventions undermining and limiting reproductive choice and access to care. We applaud and show solidarity with games industry and community leaders who are taking action to support all who are negatively impacted by these attempts.
And in tech, Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman has shared a statement from Apple affirming its benefits support employees seeking reproductive healthcare that may be unavailable in their home states.
Apple on ruling: “We support our employees’ rights to make their own decisions regarding their reproductive health. For more than a decade, Apple’s comprehensive benefits have allowed our employees to travel out-of-state for medical care if it is unavailable in their home state.”
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) June 24, 2022
Gaming isn’t the only space that’s taking action. While major entertainment companies have refrained from issuing statements as of yet, reports indicate that a number of them are issuing statements to employees and offering healthcare support.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix is offering a $10,000 lifetime allowance for travel reimbursement for, among other things, gender affirming care and abortion. In an email to employees, Paramount CEO Bob Bakish reminded them that company health policies include coverage of travel-related expenses “if the covered health service, such as abortion, is prohibited in your area.” And Warner Bros. Discovery is apparently expanding its healthcare benefits to “include expenses for employees and their covered family members who need to travel to access a range of medical procedures, including care for abortions, family planning and reproductive health.”
Per a Variety report on the same topic, Meta, Sony, and Conde Nast are similarly offering or looking into offering travel reinbursement. And Disney has expressed its commitment to employees to provide access to family and reproductive care “no matter where they live.”
Hollywood unions have also spoken up. A report from The Hollywood Reporter reveals that the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, Writers Guild of America, IATSE, and Actors Equity have all issued statements to their members offering support for reproductive freedoms to their members, while also demanding legislative action to codify the right to abortion.
In a joint statement, WGA East and West’s board of directors condemned the ruling:
“Once again, this court has chosen to ignore public opinion and to violate the privacy and health of a vast percentage of the American population,” the statement reads. “This decision will lead to injury, death, and the denial of basic human rights that allow Americans to lead the lives they choose without fear of interference or bodily harm. We now look to the states to enforce existing law or to act to pass new legislation that will protect against the Supreme Court’s misguided and harmful decision.”
It’s likely we’ll see other gaming and entertainment companies similarly come out in public support given the large number that spoke out when the draft opinion first leaked. We will continue to update this article as more issue statements.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.
Update 6/24/2022 2:12pm: This piece was updated post-publication to include statements from the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, Writers Guild of America, IATSE, Actors Equity, PlayStation London, Ubisoft, Media Molecule, ArenaNet, EA, Bethesda, Niantic, Unbroken Studios, Airship Syndicate, Team Meat, Cold Iron Studios, That’s No Moon, Future Club, and Hi-Rez Studios.