As part of today’s third-quarter financial results report, Activision Blizzard made a pair of major announcements: Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 have both been delayed out of 2022, and Blizzard’s recently-appointed co-leader Jen Oneal has left the company to advance the cause of diversity throughout the industry.
“As we have worked with new leadership in Blizzard and within the franchises themselves, particularly in certain key creative roles, it has become apparent that some of the Blizzard content planned for next year will benefit from more development time to reach its full potential,” as the company tells investors during today’s report.
There’s now no clear window for either the Overwatch 2 release date or the Diablo 4 release date, though neither game had previously had a clear launch date, either – given Activision Blizzard’s lowered financial expectations, however, it certainly seems that the company expected both games to launch in 2022. Overwatch League’s next spring season will still run on an early build of Overwatch 2 with 5v5 competitive multiplayer matches.
Jen Oneal became co-leader of Blizzard alongside Mike Ybarra back in August, following the departure of president J Allen Brack. “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”, Oneal says in a goodbye letter to employees, obtained by GamesBeat.
“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. While I am not totally sure what form that will take, I am excited to embark on a new journey to find out.”
Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit filed in July by the state of California (since expanded for QA and customer service contractors) alleging years of discrimination and harassment. Since then, CEO Bobby Kotick has called the company’s initial response “tone deaf”, employees have staged a walkout, Blizzard president J Allen Brack has left, and the ABK Workers Alliance has demanded change at the company. The lawsuit is ongoing; follow the latest developments here. In September, an agency of the US federal government opened an investigation into Activision Blizzard’s response to sexual misconduct and discrimination complaints from its employees, as part of which Kotick has reportedly been subpoenaed. The company is also facing a separate unfair labour practice suit alleging “worker intimidation and union busting” filed by a workers’ union, also in September. In another, separate development, Activision Blizzard reached an agreement with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “to settle claims and to further strengthen policies and programs to prevent harassment and discrimination”. In a subsequent letter to employees, the company has announced an end to forced arbitration, a $250 million initiative to improve diversity, and a major pay cut for Kotick.