Game Companies Say They’re Supporting Black Lives Matter, But Few Are Offering Specifics

By Ethan Gach on at

As protests over the killing of George Floyd by police spread throughout the US last weekend, some of the gaming industry’s biggest companies put out statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. But while a few have shared some specifics about what they’re doing to help fight systemic racism, almost none of them have spoken more directly about what they plan to do about it.

Corporations weren’t racing to support the Black Lives Matter movement back when it first began after George Zimmerman was acquitted for killing Trayvon Martin. Now eight years later even traditionally risk-averse gaming companies are using the hashtag. “Being silent about the violence and racism Black people experience is being complicit,” Sony wrote on Twitter last Sunday. “But actions always speak louder than words,” the company continued. “And we’re working hard to make sure we at Sony are doing more than just stating we are allies.”

Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis police sparked the nationwide protests currently taking place across America, but it’s only one of the latest widely publicised killings. Just last month Breonna Taylor was shot by the Louisville police while asleep in her home. Ahmaud Arbery was hunted down and shot by an ex-cop and his son in Georgia after they saw him jogging. According to the research and advocacy group Mapping Police Violence, 1,099 people were killed by police in the United States last year, a disproportionate number of whom were black.

Very few gaming companies have come out explicitly against police violence, instead framing their support for Black Lives Matter as part of a more general struggle against racial inequities and injustices. That kind of language can sometimes come off as mealymouthed, but taken on its own terms it also commits them to a broader reckoning with racism, including at their own workplaces, from hiring practices to representation in their games – problems that have persisted across games from Square Enix, Capcom and others for a long time.

Kotaku reached out to a number of the bigger gaming companies who put out statements related to the ongoing protests to ask them for more specifics about what they actually plan to do to enact real and meaningful change. Some declined to comment but have publicly stated they will do things like match employee donations to charities and nonprofits doing work in this space. Others have remained completely silent. Barely anyone was willing to go into more specifics.

Here’s a roundup of what game companies are saying about the current wave of protests and what details about their ongoing actions to help them they were willing to share:

Sony

According to Last of Us II director Neil Druckmann, PlayStation is matching donations to certain racial justice groups, but it doesn’t seem like the company’s announced that publicly.

Sony did not respond to a request for comment.

Microsoft

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for Microsoft directed Kotaku to comments made by the company’s CEO and other members of its leadership team on LinkedIn, as well as its Criminal Justice Reform initiative started back in 2014.

Nintendo

After waiting several days Nintendo released the above statement. It did not respond to a request for comment.

Epic Games

Epic Games has not made any statement and also did not respond to a request for comment.

Valve

Valve has not made any statement and also did not respond to a request for comment.

EA

Last night EA announced that it’s holding meetings with its Black Electronics Arts Team employee resource group to “discuss our path forward as individuals, as a company, and as a community working towards change.” The publisher also announced it’s contributing $1 million (£794,600) to organisations like Equal Justice Initiative and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. It is also double matching what anyone donates to those or other local organisations through the YourCause program for the month of June.

Other measures include an extra paid day off each year to devote to volunteering, a company-wide holiday on June 19 for service projects outside the company, and a June 9 “community conversation” between the entire company.

EA declined to comment further.

Ubisoft

Ubisoft announced it’s donating $100,000 (£79,408) to the NAACP and Black Lives Matter.

Ubisoft did not respond to a request for comment.

Take-Two

Take-Two has not made any statement and also declined to comment.

Activision Blizzard

Activision and Blizzard both did not respond to a request for comment. The hypocrisy of the statement after Blizzard suspended Hearthstone pro Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai for saying “Liberate Hong Kong” in a post-match interview last year was also roundly mocked on Twitter.

Square Enix

Square Enix announced it’s giving $250,000 (£198,650) and matching employee donations to Black Lives Matter and other charities.

Square Enix did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Riot Games

Riot Games announced it would help fund organisations focusing on nationwide criminal justice reform in America, addressing racial bias, and building up black-owned businesses, through its existing Riot Games Social Impact Fund. It would also match Riot employee donations to qualifying groups up to $1,000 (£795).

Riot Games did not respond to a request for comment.

Warner Bros. Games

Warner Bros. Games did not respond to a request for comment.

Rockstar Games

Rockstar Games has not made any statement and also declined to comment.

Bungie

Bungie announced it will make “financial contributions” and match employee donations to the following groups: blacklivesmatter.com, showingupforracialjustice.org, antiracismcenter.com, eji.org, and colorlines.com.

Bungie did not respond to a request for comment.

Bethesda

Bethesda did not respond to a request for comment.

Capcom

A spokesperson for Capcom provided Kotaku with the following statement: “We’re actively looking into ways to support Black communities in a meaningful way.”


Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.

Featured image: David Ryder (Getty Images)