Despite this, there is growing frustration among employees who want their companies to speak up. A recent report from Kotaku highlighted complaints from employees at ZeniMax Media’s Bethesda and Arkane affiliates, who called the company’s lack of response “deafening.”
A source at another major Texas-based studio, who requested anonymity to speak freely, tells WIRED that there is “a lot of frustration internally with communications and executives about the lack of public statements, especially with a lot of studios in California and Seattle being very vocal.” and clear.” While the company was willing to talk internally with employees about their concerns, the source continued, “it is extremely wary of litigation from the Texas government and is saying as little as possible. The offline chatter is that they are focusing on financially protecting current employees from making public statements.”
For Texas, abortion laws are vague about who could be punished and how. Private citizens have the power to sue anyone who “aids and abets” abortion. The uncertainty has even shut down efforts like abortion funds, as organizers fear legal punishment. It is hard to see that even well-positioned, well-financed companies fear the power of civil servants, the source continued. “For every Gearbox or Arkane or Id, there are dozens of indie or freelance dev teams that have few or none of the same resources,” they say.
Some developers choose to help employees leave affected states entirely. In May, following an opinion that would eventually be overturned Roe v. Wade leaked Certain Affinity founder and CEO Max Hoberman told employees that the company will help relocate them to a safer state or province where the company operates. Its headquarters are located in Texas. “These are tricky areas to navigate because state governments may at some point decide that by supporting vulnerable employees in their time of need, we’ve fallen on the wrong side of the law,” Hoberman said in his statement to employees. “As horrifying and disturbing as this is, it is a reality and a risk that we must carefully manage.”
A source at the major Texas-based studio says that although it is mentioned Roe v. Wade was left out of the official communication, the company was open about the possibility of relocation. But leaving Texas or any other affected state is an imperfect solution at best, another example of the class divide that already plagues abortion. “‘Just go to a safe country’ is an inherently privileged position that solves the problem for only a fraction of those affected,” they say.
As government officials seek to expand anti-abortion laws, leaving may no longer be an option. There are only so many safe havens to run to, especially when access to health care is tied to work.