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Bungie general counsel calls legal action against harassers "good business"

"My team and I have a set of skills that make it possible for us to defend them as well as the integrity of our players' experience," writes Don McGowan, counsel for Destiny developer Bungie.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

August 2, 2022

1 Min Read
Cover art for Bungie's Destiny 2: Beyond Light expansion.

"We have seen historically that bad actors will often be tolerated because the people with the skills and power to remove them do not focus their efforts there [...] In our view, removing harassment and abuse from our community is not only the right thing to do, it is also good business."

-Bungie general counsel Don McGowan

Since 2021, Destiny 2 developer Bungie has pursued legal action against cheaters in its community and those who've been harassing employees of the Seattle-based studio. 

At a time when community toxicity is becoming a talking point among game developers, Bungie's repeated suits have caught significant attention, and these suits can all be traced to one person: Don McGowan. 

McGowan recently spoke with Axios, tracing his path from taking leakers to court at The Pokémon Company to battling trolls on Bungie's behalf.

The methods by which McGowan and Bungie go after harassers and cheaters differ from how other game publishers tackle the same problems. Harassment has generally been something most developers avoid turning into a legal issue. McGowan told Axios this is because many are uncertain they have the time, money, or capability to track down anonymous hackers and harassers. 

McGowan disagrees with that stance, arguing that this issue "impacts many studios across the industry, and it is critical to deal with it to maintain a healthy and happy community that wants to play your game."

Bungie's efforts to make a better community align with its aims to become a better company overall following a late 2021 report of toxic work culture. A game's community is as part of the work culture, and making an effort to curb negative behavior--either through legal means or simply improving moderation tools--goes a long way.  

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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