Blizzard Boss Jen Oneal Is Stepping Down–3 Months After Taking The New Role

Jen Oneal, one of Bliz­zard’s top lead­ers, has decid­ed to leave the com­pa­ny. Oneal announced her depar­ture from Bliz­zard Enter­tain­ment on Tues­day, three months after she was bol­stered to a head role in the com­pa­ny, along­side Mike Ybar­ra. These two were pushed to the top dur­ing the stu­dio’s scan­dal of sex­u­al harass­ment and dis­crim­i­na­tion against women.

Oneal is offi­cial­ly leav­ing Bliz­zard at the end of the year, but it’s the tim­ing of Oneal’s announce­ment of step­ping down that is inter­est­ing. She informed staff at 1:30 PM PT on Novem­ber 2nd, and Activi­sion Bliz­zard man­age­ment made the infor­ma­tion pub­lic at 1:52 PM PT. That’s only a 22-minute dif­fer­ence, with some staff mem­bers find­ing out about Oneal’s depar­ture along with every­one else dur­ing the earn­ings call.

The ABK Work­ers Alliance social media page–which has been a vocal advo­cate for some work­ers at Activi­sion Bliz­zard King, respond­ed to the news, stat­ing it was a “sad moment.”

This is a sad moment for many of us at ABK, who were excit­ed to have a new expe­ri­ence with a Woman of Col­or head­ing our com­pa­ny. We found out dur­ing our Share­hold­er meeting–and wish Jen well in her future endeav­ors,” the group said on Twit­ter.

I am doing this not because I am with­out hope for Bliz­zard, quite the opposite–I’m inspired by the pas­sion of every­one here, work­ing towards mean­ing­ful, last­ing change with their whole hearts. This ener­gy has inspired me to step out and explore how I can do more to have games and diver­si­ty inter­sect, and hope­ful­ly make a broad­er indus­try impact that will ben­e­fit Bliz­zard (and oth­er stu­dios) as well,” she said. “While I am not total­ly sure what form that will take, I am excit­ed to embark on a new jour­ney to find out.”

Oneal is a board mem­ber of the non-prof­it Women In Games Inter­na­tion­al, and Activi­sion Bliz­zard is cre­at­ing a $1 mil­lion grant for the orga­ni­za­tion. The mon­ey will be used to “fund skill-build­ing and men­tor­ship programs.”

To do this, Oneal will tran­si­tion to a new role with­in the com­pa­ny for the rest of the year to come up with a plan for how to use the $1 mil­lion grant. “The part­ner­ship is full of poten­tial and is anoth­er step in a long-term com­mit­ment to cre­ate bet­ter sup­port, resources, and guid­ance to women in the gam­ing indus­try,” Oneal said.

Ybar­ra will take over the lead­er­ship role of Bliz­zard. “Mike and I have been work­ing togeth­er to devel­op many of the actions we’ll be tak­ing to con­tin­ue mak­ing Bliz­zard a safer, stronger, and more inclu­sive work­place, and I know he plans on shar­ing some of those actions with you soon,” stat­ed Oneal.

I want­ed to tell the Bliz­zard com­mu­ni­ty this per­son­al­ly because I want you to know I believe so strong­ly in Mike and the rest of Blizzard’s lead­er­ship both in terms of Bliz­zard’s cul­ture and Bliz­zard’s games,” Oneal said. “Bliz­zard’s best days are ahead. I tru­ly believe that. I also am hop­ing this let­ter helps you to think about what you can do to make every­one around you–no mat­ter their gen­der, race, or identity–feel wel­come, com­fort­able, and free to be themselves.”

Ybar­ra and Oneal were named the new co-heads of the com­pa­ny back in August, when CEO J. Allen Brack announced he was leav­ing Blizzard.

In oth­er Bliz­zard news, their lat­est earn­ings report also acknowl­edged that Over­watch 2 and Dia­blo 4 have been delayed indef­i­nite­ly, due to the high lev­els of staff turnovers dur­ing the law­suits and investigations. 

I am a Platinum lover and an ex- Cod-aholic. I've been playing games since I was 5 years old and I refuse to quit, despite my mother's attempts to get me to. God of War and its successors are my all time favorite games.

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