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EA walkout axed as publisher adjusts Pride month plans

Update: An employee walkout has been called off after EA management confirmed it will not use any Pride-themed logos in its marketing this month.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

June 1, 2022

3 Min Read
Respawn Entertainment's statement in support of Transgender rights. Several LGBTQ Apex Legends characters pose behind the text.

Update: EA employees have reportedly called off the walkout, and informed Gamesindustry.biz that leadership has informed employees that it will not be using Pride-themed rainbow logos this month in any of its communications.

Since the walkout was planned to highlight the "hypocrisy" of using Pride imagery without backing LGBTQ causes, the very specific grievance raised by staff has been addressed.

Our original story is below:

Electronic Arts employees have reportedly informed management of their intent to walk out this Friday, June 3, if the company does not make any "substantive statement" in support of transgender rights. 

This follows intense legal restrictions on the transgender community that have expanded in the United States and other countries in the last few years.

This potential walkout follows weeks of employee anger over EA's refusal to comment on the possible mass restriction of abortion rights in the United States, as well as updates this week that the company would not comment on continued attacks on the transgender community as well.

This news also lands on the first day of Pride month, which takes place in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Employees are specifically angry that EA intends to commemorate Pride without acknowledging the bigotry against LGBTQ Americans that necessitated a month of recognition.

"If we see the company rainbow-wash their logo without making any substantive statement in support of trans people being abused nationwide in the US and elsewhere, especially after stating that the company doesn't want to make any statement not supported by the diverse viewpoints of our 13,000 employees, we collectively walk out on Friday, June 3rd," employees apparently stated via a Slack message reviewed by Gamesindustry.biz.

"Just slapping a rainbow on our logo in June without any broader action will be unacceptable."

After the message was sent, EA's social media messaging teams were apparently sent guidelines on what company accounts could and could not post this month. Said messaging does say that the company wants to be "meaningful" but did direct employees that they could not be "political" in nature.

As should be obvious, it's frustratingly tough to determine where celebrations of Pride and transgender rights are "political" versus "not political" in EA's eyes. Conservative political parties across the globe (including the Republican Party in the United States and the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom) have made attacks on transgender rights key parts of their political platforms.

Simply expressing support for transgender rights is now illegal in Florida schools, which barred teachers from discussing different sexual or gender identities. In Texas, state officials have directed child protective services agents to investigate parents of transgender children for child abuse.

EA has branches in both states. 

The company's apparent motivation on not making a broader public statement has been that it apparently only wishes to make statements that reflect "the consistent perspective" of its 13,000 employees. 

EA employees and social media teams have begun sharing messages of support for transgender rights on social media. Studios like Respawn Entertainment, and company leaders like Vince Zampella and Lyndsay Pearson, have already taken to social media to express support and in some cases, decry discrimination against transgender people.

"Inaction is a choice and hurts those we care for," Respawn said in its message, which may be a subtle dig at its parent company's stances.

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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