Activision Blizzard today announced that Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack is leaving the company and that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will be stepping up to co-lead Blizzard Entertainment, effectively immediately. The announcement comes in the wake of California's lawsuit against Activision Blizzard regarding the company's treatment of women over allegations of unequal pay, sexual harassment, and retaliation against employees. Activision Blizzard initially described the claims as "distorted, and in many cases false," which inspired a walkout by employees over the company's actions. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick ultimately released a followup statement about the lawsuit that essentially promised to do better in a number of ways, including personnel changes. And now Brack is leaving the company.
"Both leaders are deeply committed to all of our employees; to the work ahead to ensure Blizzard is the safest, most welcoming workplace possible for women, and people of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or background; to upholding and reinforcing our values; and to rebuilding your trust," Blizzard Entertainment's statement about the new leadership change today reads in part. "With their many years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusivity, Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion, and a dedication to excellence."
New leadership at Blizzard.August 3, 2021
"I am confident that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to realize its full potential and will accelerate the pace of change," said Brack in a statement provided alongside the announcement of his departure. "I anticipate they will do so with passion and enthusiasm and that they can be trusted to lead with the highest levels of integrity and commitment to the components of our culture that make Blizzard so special."
While the official announcements about the change in leadership do not directly address the lawsuit and subsequent fallout, it's all but impossible to view this as a result of anything else given the specific language about Oneal and Ybarra being "deeply committed" to all of Blizzard's employees. Brack took the role as Blizzard Entertainment's president in 2018 after Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime, who had been in the position for over 10 years. Oneal only joined Blizzard this January as executive vice president of development and was the former head of Vicarious Visions whereas Ybarra joined Blizzard in 2019 as the executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology.
What do you think of Brack leaving the company and Oneal and Ybarra stepping in as co-leaders? Does it change your current opinion on the company given the personnel changes? Let us know in the comments, or feel free to reach out and hit me up directly over on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk about all things gaming!