Apex Legends developer fired over racist, sexist comments made in 2007

Daniel “Zenon” Klein, a lead designer on Apex Legends, has been fired by Respawn Entertainment over racist and sexist comments he made in a blog post from 2007. He says that the company and parent EA were absolutely within their rights to terminate him, however much he may disagree with that decision.

Screenshots from the blog surfaced last month. They include derogatory comments about “Africans” and women. Klein acknowledged that these screenshots were real on July 27, noting that they were written around 14 years ago. Apex Legends content creator Thordan Smash worked out that Klein would have been 27 at the time.

“You may or may not have seen the awful, bigoted things I said in 2007,” Klein wrote. “I wholeheartedly agree that THAT guy should have been fired. I have poured so much energy into becoming a better person since then, and right now I’m just very depressed because it feels I’ll never be able to make up for who I was.”

“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.”

Klein believes people went digging into his past over his clashes with Apex Legends players on social media about balance changes in the game. “I fully own the awful, bigoted statements I made in 2007 and am disgusted with my younger self for making them,” Klein told Kotaku. “But there’s also no doubt in my mind that they came to light because someone went looking for things to hurt me with. EA was aware of this allegation, and I specifically asked them to be on the lookout for these strategies being used against other employees in the future.”

Back in 2018, Klein, who was then described as an “outspoken feminist,” left League of Legends developer Riot Games, which had been under fire for discriminating against female employees. Responding to angry comments in a Reddit thread about PAX events that were open to women and non-binary people only, he tweeted: “Systemic sexism and racism exist at the intersection of bigotry and power dynamics. Racism isn’t just being called the n-word, it’s that + no one caring when you protest + not being given a loan a white person would have gotten + being shot by the police for no reason.”