J. Allen Brack, Blizzard’s president for the past 15 years, is leaving the company is the wake of the ongoing lawsuit over the sexual harassment and discrimination claims against women. This was officially announced on Blizzard’s website.
Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will now be the co-leaders of Blizzards going forward (neither will carry title of president or CEO). Oneal formerly led the team at Vicarious Visions, which recently became part of Blizzard. She had been the executive vice president of development at Blizzard since January.
As for Ybarra, he joined Blizzard in 2019 after an extended career at Xbox and more recently served as executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology for Blizzard.
“Jen and Mike have more than three decades of gaming industry experience between them. Moving forward, they will share responsibilities over game development and company operations,” Blizzard said. “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 said in his own statement: “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.”
Brack is leaving Blizzard to “pursue new opportunities,” Activision Blizzard said in its own statement.
A separate statement given to Gamasutra said “It became clear to J. Allen Brack and Activision Blizzard leadership that Blizzard Entertainment needs a new direction and leadership given the critical work ahead in terms of workplace culture, game development, and innovation.”
This leadership change arrives shortly after California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing launched a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over claims of equal pay violations, sex discrimination, and sexual harassment.
A separate lawsuit was also filed by a shareholder, which alleges that Activision Blizzard gave “false and misleading” statements in regards to the investigation. The company failed to give them notice of the two-year investigation which is now responsible for a dip in stock prices.
Activision Blizzard employees walked out last week in protest of the company’s response to the situation. Hundreds of Ubisoft employees wrote an open letter in support as they have been in a similar scenario.