Blizzard chairman J. Allen Brack, who was recently named in a discrimination and harassment lawsuit against the company in California, is leaving “to seek new opportunities,” the company said this morning.
In his place, Blizzard executive vice presidents Mike Ybarra (a longtime former Xbox executive) and Jen Oneal (formerly head of Vicarious Visions) will be co-heads of the studio from today. Both have a long history in the gaming industry, but joined Blizzard’s management team relatively recently – Ybarra in 2019 and Oneal earlier this year, when Vicarious Vision merged with Blizzard. Brack had worked at Blizzard for almost 16 years, eight of which were as an executive and three as chairman of the company. Before that he worked on games like Wing Commander and Star Wars Galaxies.
“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,” Brack said in a statement. “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 parts of our culture that make Blizzard so special. “
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit specifically named Brack as one of the executives who filed complaints of “discrimination and unlawful retaliation for harassment” from employees and “failed to take action. corrective actions effective in response ”. The lawsuit also alleges that Brack gave a simple “slap on the wrist” to Alex Afrasiabi, the former senior creative director of World of Warcraft who was ultimately dismissed for “misconduct” regarding his treatment of female employees.
In an email to staff following last month’s trial, Brack said he felt “angry, sad and a host of other emotions” over alleged behavior he called of “extremely disturbing” and “completely unacceptable … I despise the” culture of the brothers “. and I’ve spent my career fighting it. Iterating on our culture with the same intensity that we bring to our games is imperative… ”
Brack’s departure precedes the presentation of Activision Blizzard’s quarterly results later today. As of this writing, shares of Activision Blizzard are down nearly 5% that day in early trading and more than 16% from a month ago.
Thousands of Activision Blizzard employees signed a petition denouncing the company’s initial response to the lawsuit, and hundreds participated in a ‘Walkout for Equality’ day last week while demanding action on many. fronts.