Jen Oneal has stepped down from her role as co-leader of Blizzard, leaving Mike Ybarra as the head of the studio known for making Overwatch, World of Warcraft and Diablo. Oneal will temporarily transition to a new position, but will leave Activision Blizzard (fine, and King) at the end of the year. Activision Blizzard is facing a handful of lawsuits and investigations into reports of sexual harassment, gropings, and systemic gender discrimination at the studio, stemming from the leadership down. Oneal and Ybarra took over as co-leaders of Blizzard in August after president J. Allen Brack was named in the original California lawsuit, leading to his dismissal. Oneal was the first woman in a president role since Activision's founding in 1979.
The head of Blizzard Entertainment is stepping down after video game publisher Activision Blizzard was sued by the state of California over alleged sexual harassment and equal pay violations. In a statement posted Tuesday, Blizzard Entertainment announced J. Allen Brack will step down as head of the studio, replaced by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra as co-leaders of the studio. Oneal joined Blizzard earlier this year as an executive vice president of development, providing support to franchises Diablo and Overwatch. Ybarra left Xbox to join Blizzard in 2019 as executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology, overseeing the studio's Battle.net "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," said Brack in a statement.
Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack stepped down today following weeks of controversy over the company's alleged culture of sexism. On July 20, California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed an explosive suit alleging rampant gender-based discrimination at Blizzard parent company Activision Blizzard. Employees at Activision Blizzard say Brack's departure is just one step toward addressing systemic issues. "No one person is responsible for the culture of Blizzard; the problems at ABK go beyond Blizzard and require systemic change," tweeted the Activision Blizzard King Workers Alliance, a self-described "organized group of current Activision Blizzard, Inc. employees committed to defending our right to a safe and equitable workplace." Oneal was previously studio head for Vicarious Visions, known for developing the Tony Hawk and Skylanders series.
Blizzard, the studio behind Overwatch, Diablo and World of Warcraft, is getting into a new genre with the announcement that it's working on a survival game. It seems the project is in the early stages of development, so don't expect a finished product (or even a splashy trailer) any time soon, but it's notable that the publisher is playing around with fresh mechanics and new worlds. Blizzard's job post about the survival game says it will be "a place full of heroes we have yet to meet, stories yet to be told, and adventures yet to be lived. A vast realm of possibility, waiting to be explored." The studio has confirmed one detail about the project: It'll be available on "PC and console."
When California's fair employment agency sued Activision Blizzard, one of the largest video game studios in the world, on July 20th, it wasn't surprising to hear the allegations of systemic gender discrimination and sexual harassment at the company. It wasn't a shock to read about male executives groping their female colleagues, or loudly joking about rape in the office, or completely ignoring women for promotions. What was surprising was that California wanted to investigate Activision Blizzard at all, considering these issues have seemingly been present since its founding in 1979. Activision Blizzard is a multibillion-dollar publisher with 9,500 employees and a roster of legendary franchises, including Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo and World of Warcraft. On July 20th, California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, alleging executives had fostered an environment of misogyny and frat-boy rule for years, violating equal pay laws and labor codes along the way.