Activision Blizzard has been under intense scrutiny of late, the majority of which has come from the Blizzard Entertainment side of things. The company has come under fire following allegations of widespread harassment and abuse, which has led to public outcry, major internal restructuring, lawsuits, legal investigations- you name it.
Of the many employees Activision Blizzard has let go following the aforementioned workplace practices coming into light, one of the more high profile ones was Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allan Brack, who stepped down from his role shortly after the company was sued by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Upon Brack’s departure, he was replaced by former Vicarious Visions boss Jen Oneal and former Xbox executive Mike Ybarra, both of whom became co-leads of Blizzard Entertainment.
Now, however, merely three months after her appointment in the role, Oneal has announced that she’s stepping down and leaving the company. After having been at Blizzard for over two decades, she now leaves as Mike Ybarra the sole lead of the company, while Oneal herself is going to focus her efforts on bringing more diversity to the games industry. Activision is also making the gesture of creating a $1 million grant to Women in Games International, where Oneal is a board member.
“I have made the decision to step away from co-leading Blizzard Entertainment and will transition to a new position before departing ABK at the end of the year. Effective immediately, Mike Ybarra will lead Blizzard,” Oneal wrote. “I am doing this not because I am without hope for Blizzard, quite the opposite–I’m inspired by the passion of everyone here, working towards meaningful, lasting change with their whole hearts. This energy has inspired me to step out and explore how I can do more to have games and diversity intersect, and hopefully make a broader industry impact that will benefit Blizzard (and other studios) as well. While I am not totally sure what form that will take, I am excited to embark on a new journey to find out. ”
Blizzard Entertainment has certainly come into a transitional period, where hitting the reset button has become something of a necessity. Given the details that have come to light about the highly problematic work culture that persisted at the company for years, it’s just a shame that it took so long to get to this point. Hopefully, it’ll be a case of better late than never.
Changes in leadership and everything else that the recent controversies have brought along with them have caused Blizzard to delay various plans as well. BlizzConline 2022 got recently cancelled, while it’s also been announced that Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 will both also release later than initially planned.