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News video games 03 August 2021, 19:16

author: Michael Kulakowski

Blizzard CEO Steps Down; Successors Named

J. Allen Brack, CEO of Blizzard Entertainment, has stepped down from his position and further work at the studio. At the same time, his two successors have already been appointed. They will share responsibilities and lead a team that is struggling to deal with extremely serious and well-documented allegations of harassment, discrimination and mobbing among employees.

For the past two weeks, the gaming industry has been living with the scandal that has erupted around Blizzard Entertainment after it was accused by the state of California (at the request of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing) of incidents of sexual harassment, mobbing and discrimination against employees. The lawsuit was based on a meticulous investigation that took place across nearly two years. California lawyers uncovered unacceptable behavior by some of the staff that not only crossed all boundaries of decency but also allegedly had driven one of the women working at the company to suicide.

The heads of Activision and Blizzard have already spoken out about the affair, which only exacerbated the conflict and led to a mass protest at the studio. In the face of growing conflict, J. Allen Brack resigned today from the position of Blizzard Entertainment's CEO and further work in the company.

He had been in charge of Blizzard since 2018. Previously, he was responsible in the studio for the development of World of Warcraft. Brack did not directly address the situation at the company, and his departure is officially the result of "a desire to pursue new opportunities and possibilities outside of Activision Blizzard.". In the press release we can read that the duties of CEO will be taken over by two new "leaders" with "high reputation and high standards of work".

Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra have been appointed to lead Blizzard. Oneal has worked in the industry for eighteen years. She previously led Vicarious Visions (Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2) and was a VP of Development at Blizzard, working on the Diablo and Overwatch franchises. Ybarra, in turn, was one of Microsoft's most senior executives in the Xbox division for seven years, as well as Blizzard's CTO, responsible for Battle.net and the development of the studio's services.

It's worth noting that the news of Brack's departure is no coincidence. Activision has a meeting with investors scheduled for today regarding the financial results for the second quarter of 2021. The absence of Blizzard's now former CEO at the meeting will enable the company, at least for now, to avoid uncomfortable questions from shareholders..

Observers also point out that the new heads of Blizzard have not been officially appointed as CEOs, but in the accepted nomenclature they are referred to only as "leaders". This is to indicate that the strings of the company will now be pulled directly by Activision, and therefore its CEO, Bobby Kotick. He certainly hopes that in this way he will be able to minimize the financial and image losses caused by the scandal. After the content of the lawsuit was revealed, the value of Activision Blizzard stock fell sharply, which undermined investor confidence.

  1. Activision Blizzard - official homepage
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