Blizzard shakes up leadership following J. Allen Brack departure

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Published by FileTrekker 1 year ago , last updated 1 year ago

J. Allen Brack, the now-former president of Blizzard, has been replaced by a combination of Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who will be acting as co-heads of the studio. The move also means that, for the first time, the studio has a woman in the (co-)top position at the company.

It follows the recent lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which alleges cases of harassment, discrimination and a "frat-boy" culture at the company. 3,000 employees walked out of work last week in protest of practices at the company, and employees also signed an open letter asking for  "official statements that recognize the seriousness of the allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault." 

That response appears to have lead to the removal of J. Allen Brack from the to position as president of the studio, as confirmed today by the CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick. In his place will be Mike Ybarra and, in a first for the company, Jen Oneal. 

Oneal is also relatively new to the company but has some impressive credentials. Before joining Blizzard in January, she was the head of Vicarious Visions, wile Mike Ybarra comes from a long sting at Xbox before he joined Blizzard in 2019. Blizzard's statement noted that "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." 

J. Allen Brack specifically isn't off the hook, though. He is specifically named within the lawsuit for his alleged poor handling of a complaint against Alex Afrasiabi, who is himself alleged to have been drinking heavily, and harassing female employees. Blizzard however has stated it intends the change made today to be geared towards addressing the culture at the company;

"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." 

Brack himself also made a statement wishing both Oneal and Ybarra the best in their new roles;

"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. Finally, thank you all for being a part of the Blizzard community, and for your passion and determination for safety and equality for all."

The lawsuit itself could continue on for a number of months, perhaps even longer. We'll be sure to bring any further updates as we learn them.

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