This morning, Blizzard Entertainment (or Activision Blizzard) announced that J. Allen Brack, recent head of the company, is “stepping down.” He will be replaced by “co-leads” Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra. This is the latest spool of thread in the story that began publicly unwinding in July 2021 as a lawsuit was filed against Activision Blizzard by the state of California after a two year investigation.
Curiously, after multiple statements from leadership, ex-employees and a highly visible company walkout (and wide variety of responses), the statement from Blizzard barely touches upon current events. The statement reads,
”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.”
As well as using the language “stepping down” and including a fairly typical statement from Brack, there’s a noticeable lack of context for why this is happening. It may be a while before we learn if Brack resigned, was fired or what. That said, the “co-lead” positions replacing him seems like a sign of restructuring, though to what end or extent remains to be seen.
Oneal was previously the leader of Vicarious Visions before that studio was absorbed into Blizzard, and Ybarra spent many years at Microsoft, most recently as the Corporate Vice President of Gaming before leaving to join Blizzard in 2019.
We will continue to watch this story as it unfolds, and will keep our readers updated as is relevant to these events.