One of the most prominent developers at Respawn Entertainment, Daniel Klein, has been let go by the studio, after posts he made on a blog in 2007 resurfaced. Klein has confirmed that the offensive posts were the cause of his dismissal.
Klein was the lead designer for the Legend balance team in Apex Legends. Due to his position, he often faced the community’s ire when they disagreed with buffs or nerfs he made to certain characters.
As one of the lead developers, Klein engaged frequently with the community across social media. Controversy in 2021 centered around a lack of changes for the Wattson character, who players believe is underpowered, but that Klein remained adamant was a strong and viable pick.
Following this, allegations were made against the developer after a series blog posts he wrote in 2007 were uncovered and shared by members of the community. Although Respawn’s director of comms initially responded, “I don’t think anything from 2007 reflects on a person in 2021. People grow up.”
Daniel Klein “terminated” from Respawn
However, Respawn / EA have since taken action, letting go of Klein from the studio.
On August 10, Klein confirmed his dismissal, writing “You may or may not have seen the awful, bigoted things I said in 2007. I wholeheartedly agree that THAT guy should have been fired.
“I said racist and sexist things, not because I deeply believed any of them, but because I knew I could get a reaction out of people. That does not excuse anything I said; the impact of my words was the same regardless of what I believed.”
He accepted the decision, but said he disagreed with it: “To be clear, I’m not saying EA or Respawn did anything untoward. They were absolutely within their rights to terminate me, much as I may disagree with that decision.”
You may or may not have seen the awful, bigoted things I said in 2007. I wholeheartedly agree that THAT guy should have been fired.
— Daniel Zenon Klein (@danielzklein) August 10, 2021
In one of the blog posts, from 2007 (when Klein was 27/28), he made sexist remarks about women being irrational, and a joke about feeding Africans.
Klein’s work on Apex Legends also included the gameplay design of Valkyrie, the Season 9 Legend.
Apex Legends has now entered its 10th season, and will do so without the lead balance designer it has had since launch. It remains to be seen if Klein’s position will be taken up by another member of the current live balance team at Respawn.
Klein was also fired from his previous role at Riot, after a dispute within the community about a women-only event at PAX.