Protests over the killing of George Floyd are still dominating the worldwide discourse and gaming is no different. Multiple game companies spoke out in support of the African-American community, Black Lives Matter, and other organizations that champion the causes of black people. In gaming, it sparked an industry-wide conversation on inclusivity in the video games at all levels.
Many game developers and publishers have gone beyond supportive statements and are donating to Black and social justice organizations. Some companies are even taking their pledge a step further with internal initiatives aimed at including more Black and minority voices in their development process. Here is a look at just some of the big names that are making waves with their support and donate to Black organizations.
One of the first to make any sort of pledge was Ubisoft on June 2nd. The French company tweeted that they are donating 100k to the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and Black Lives Matter. Ubisoft created the well-known Assassin’s Creed series which usually begins with a statement on the diversity of their dev teams.
The well known Japanese game maker, Square Enix, is the first Asian company to put out a donation statement. Their pledge of 250k to Black Lives Matter came the same day as Ubisoft’s. But Squeenix’s pledge is coupled with the intent to match any donation their employees make with no specified ceiling. Square Enix is primarily known for the beloved Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy games. Their latest outing Final Fantasy VII Remake sold over 3 million copies since its release in March.
The Pokemon Company
One company that many didn’t expect to jump into the fray was the Pokemon Company. The game dev responsible for one of the most profitable franchises in the world opted to donate $200k. The donation is split between Black Lives Matter and the NAACP. Their latest games Pokemon Sword and Shield sold over 17 million copies to date.
In arguably the most robust series of statements, EA/EA Sports released multiple posts about their approach to the issue of Racism. Even before donating, EA already pushed back the announcement of Madden 21 to a later date.
However, they felt that it wasn’t enough and in an internal email to employees CEO, Andrew Wilson, made a series of commitments. First, EA is to donate $1 Million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Equal Justice Initiative. Then, EA is double matching any donation made by employees through the month of June. EA will also extend one paid day of leave for employees to volunteer in their communities. A move they say will “represent more than 75,000 hours applied to the change we can make“.
On June 9th, EA is holding a “Community Conversation” which is open to the entire company. This seminar is completely internal and aimed at what the company can do to address issues of racism and inclusivity. Lastly, EA announced that the Juneteenth (June 19th) holiday will be a company-wide day of volunteering. For those unfamiliar, Juneteenth is a celebration of when the Emancipation Proclamation was read to slaves in Texas, the most remote slave state, in 1865. Two years AFTER it became law.
The biggest numbers came out Niantic, the makers of Ingress, and Pokemon GO for mobile platforms. The eye-popping amount of $5 million comes from the sales of Pokemon GO Fest 2020 tickets. Half of that designated to helping Black game developers get their projects out through Niantic. The other half to help rebuild communities that have seen damage from looting and rioting. Niantic also pledged $100k to the Marsha P Johnson Institute, which champions Black Trans causes. They would also match employee donations up to $50k. Finally, Niantic announced they would create new diversity and inclusion training modules for their company and expanding their college scholarship program with Gameheads.
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Featured Image: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 10: Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft Co-founder and CEO, speaks during the Ubisoft E3 2019 Conference at the Orpheum Theatre on June 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)