“Effective today, J. Allen Brack will step down as head of the studio, and Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will co-lead Blizzard moving forward,” the statement read from Blizzard. “Jen and Mike have over three decades of gaming industry experience. Going forward, they will share responsibilities for game development and company operations. “
Brack had been studio president since 2018, after former president Mike Morhaime resigned. Previously, he had worked for the company since 2005, as a producer and production manager for World Of Warcraft.
Oneal is the former head of Vicarious Visions, which merged with Blizzard in January. Since then, she has worked as a senior developer on Overwatch and Diablo. Ybarra left Xbox for Blizzard in 2019 and was until now Executive Vice President and General Manager of Platform and Technology.
In the statements about the staff changes, they don’t say this has anything to do with the lawsuit, but allude to it when discussing their vision for the company going forward:
“Both leaders are deeply committed to all of our employees; work ahead to make Blizzard the safest and most welcoming place to work for women and people of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or origin; to defend and strengthen our values; and regain your confidence. With their many years of industry experience and their deep commitment to integrity and inclusiveness, Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion and dedication to excellence. You’ll hear more from Jen and Mike soon. ”
Over the past week, the fallout from the lawsuit (which sees the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing suing Activision Blizzard for an alleged culture of sexual harassment and discrimination), has involved thousands of current and former employees signing a letter to condemn Activision Blizzard’s “atrocious” response, by Brack himself, and company executive Frances Townsend to the allegations. On Wednesday last week, staff also staged a walkout to protest the working conditions.
Brack’s own statement about his departure says:
“I have no doubts that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will provide the leadership that Blizzard needs to realize its full potential and accelerate the pace of change. I anticipate that they will do so with passion and enthusiasm and can be trusted to lead with the highest levels of integrity and commitment to the elements of our culture that make Blizzard so special. ”