Activision Blizzard has revealed that Blizzard president J Allen Brack is leaving the company “to pursue new opportunities”. Activision Blizzard President and chief operating officer Daniel Alegre revealed the news in a letter posted to the company’s investor relations site, explaining that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will co-lead the studio “effective immediately”, while Brack himself discusses his departure in a blog post on Blizzard’s website.
“I am confident that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to realise its full potential and will accelerate the pace of change,” Brack says. “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 has been part of Blizzard for 15 years, taking the role of president from Mike Morhaime in 2018 after serving as a leader of World of Warcraft’s development team. Oneal has been with the company for 18 years, previously serving as the head of Vicarious Visions. In her role as Blizzard’s executive vice president of development, she provided “senior development leadership and support to the Diablo and Overwatch franchises”. Ybarra, meanwhile, has been in the industry for 20 years, most recently serving as Blizzard’s executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology, and as a high-level executive at Xbox before that.
The change in leadership at Blizzard follows accusations from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing that Activision Blizzard allegedly fosters a “frat boy” workplace culture that sees women subjected to sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation in a lawsuit that follows a two-year investigation.
Employees of Activision Blizzard criticised the company’s initial response to the lawsuit, describing it as “abhorrent and insulting” in an open letter. This prompted Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick to apologise in an open letter of his own.
Employees of Activision Blizzard have since staged a walkout in protest, demanding an end to mandatory arbitration in all current and future employee contracts, an employee-agreed diverse hiring plan, the publication of compensation and salary details, and a third-party audit of the company’s HR department and executive staff.
The lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing towards Activision Blizzard is ongoing.