Blizzard Entertainment president is out following harassment lawsuit
J. Allen Brack, the controversial president of Blizzard Entertainment, is leaving the company, following continuing fallout from a sexual harassment suit and recent worker walkouts.
Activision Blizzard announced the departure Tuesday, hours before it is scheduled to report quarterly earnings. Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, two industry veterans, will co-lead Blizzard moving forward.
The move follows a lawsuit filed last month by the state of California that alleged discrimination and sexual harassment against women at the company, saying a “frat boy workplace culture” prevailed at Blizzard. Employees at the studio walked off the job last week to protest Activision’s response to the lawsuit, which many saw as dismissive.
“Both [Oneal and Ybarra] are leaders of great character and integrity and are deeply committed to ensuring our workplace is the most inspired, welcoming environment for creative excellence and to upholding our highest game development standards,” said Activision president and chief operating officer Daniel Alegre in a letter to employees. “With their many years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusivity, I am certain Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion and a dedication to excellence.”
Oneal will be the first woman to lead the studio, known for franchises such as World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Diablo. She’s an 18-year Activision veteran and formerly headed the Vicarious Visions studio, which was responsible for the Skylanders and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchises. Ybarra spent seven years as a senior executive on Microsoft’s Xbox team and most recently oversaw Blizzard’s online portal Battle.net.
Activision has hired a law firm to conduct a review of company policies and procedures, but that has not quelled employee unrest over working conditions, as many feel that the firm, WilmerHale, discourages unions.
The ripple effect of the accusations at Blizzard are seemingly starting to be felt beyond the company walls. T-Mobile, which was a major sponsor of the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League, two prominent Activision e-sports units, has removed its branding from the league websites.
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