Destiny developer Bungie posted a statement late Tuesday expressing strong support for abortion rights in the United States. The move makes Bungie the first video game company to publicly comment on a leaked draft opinion that shows the Supreme Court poised to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal across the country.
At Bungie we believe that everyone has a right to choose their own path and that freedom is expressed across all facets of life. The leaked draft decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade represents a blow to freedom in America and is a direct attack on human rights.
By creating a divide between those who posses [sic] the fundamental right to make healthcare decisions that are right for them, and those who do not posses that same freedom, this decision, should it become final, will have far-reaching consequences that will be felt for generations across socio-economic lines.
Bungie is committed to safeguarding the freedom and privacy of its employees and providing support to all employees affected by this decision.
Standing up for reproductive choice and liberty is not a difficult decision to make, and Bungie remains dedicated to upholding these values.
The Destiny-maker, which is set to become a Sony subsidiary in the coming months, went on to defend its position in the replies to a heavily trafficked tweet that went out to the company’s 2.8 million followers.
In response to a tweet arguing that Bungie “shouldn’t even be involved in this bunch of political BS,” Bungie wrote, “We’ve chosen our side and it wasn’t difficult. Our company values exist beyond our games.” In another response (to a since-deleted tweet), the company writes that it would “prefer to use our platform to make the world better for our employees and beyond.”
The game of politics
Game companies have recently shown more willingness to publicly wade into some potentially contentious public policy issues. After the invasion of Ukraine began in March, many major game publishers, including Bungie, announced plans to suspend sales in Russia and Belarus following a request from the Ukrainian government.
Several game companies also issued statements of support, made donations, and/or delayed events amid the Black Lives Matter protests surrounding the recorded killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020.
President Donald Trump’s sweeping 2017 travel ban, which focused on Muslim-majority countries, also drew a swift rebuke from the International Game Developers Association and the Entertainment Software Association, as well as donations to the ACLU from many smaller developers.
When it comes to the political relevance of their own games, however, many game publishers have actively shied away from claims that they’re making any political statements. “Games with a sense of relevance feel fresh and artistic,” one unnamed PR source told Polygon in 2018. “But talking about the politics risks blowback. Blowback is expensive.”
Recent polling shows a majority of Americans believe the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade, while just over one-quarter feel it should be overturned, and the rest express no opinion. General opinions on the legality of abortion can vary widely by state, however. A majority of women would face new state-based restrictions on abortion if and when Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to The Washington Post’s analysis.
Scattered corporate responses
Elsewhere in the tech world, dating app Bumble issued a statement saying it “believe[s] strongly in women’s right to choose and exercise complete control over their bodies. The safety, privacy, and freedom of family planning are critical to equality for all.” OkCupid tweeted a similar statement saying it “has proudly supported reproductive rights for years, and we’re not stopping now.”
Bumble and competitor Match previously set up funds to help people affected by an abortion ban in the companies’ headquarters in Texas.
Location-based review site Yelp, meanwhile, told CNBC in a statement that “overturning Roe v. Wade will jeopardize the human rights of millions of women who stand to lose the liberty to make decisions over their own bodies. Turning back the clock on the progress women have made over the past 50 years will have a seismic impact on our society and economy.”
Bumble, Match, and Yelp are among companies that offer to reimburse employee travel expenses for medical procedures that can’t be performed in their home states, including abortions. Amazon, Apple, Citigroup, and Levi Strauss announced similar policies.