Content warning: Please be aware that the following article and the sources linked within touch on topics including discrimination, sexual harassment and assault, and suicide.
On July 21st, Bloomberg Law reported that Activision Blizzard — the multi-billion dollar company behind Diablo, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft — was the subject of a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, concerning the company's "frat boy culture" and widespread reports of sexual harassment and discrimination.
Less than two weeks later, Blizzard President J. Allen Brack, who was specifically named in the lawsuit, has announced that he is stepping down, effective immediately.
Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will be replacing him as co-leaders of Blizzard.
Oneal was previously the head of Vicarious Visions, which was subsumed into Blizzard earlier this year; Oneal was promoted to Blizzard Executive Vice President of Development as part of the move. Ybarra was previously the Corporate Vice President of Xbox Live and Game Pass, and moved to Blizzard in 2019 to become their Executive Vice President and General Manager of Platform and Technology.
Blizzard released a statement on their website, which spoke directly about their values going forward:
"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.
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. You’ll hear more from Jen and Mike soon."
Brack also released a statement of his own:
"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. 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."
On Activision Blizzard's separate investor website, they stated that Brack was leaving the company "to pursue new opportunities", focusing on the appointment of two new executives and not Brack's departure.
J. Allen Brack's departure from Blizzard comes a week after over 2,000 Activision Blizzard employees signed a petition criticising the company's response to the recent state lawsuit, as reported by CNN. Activision CEO Bobby Kotick released a statement in return, calling the company's initial response "tone deaf", but the employees responded again by noting that Kotick's statement failed to "address critical elements at the heart of employee concerns", and staged a mass walkout on the 28th July.
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