Today, J.Allen Brack stepped down from his role as president of Blizzard Entertainment and is leaving the Overwatch and World Of Warcraft developers "to pursue new opportunities". While the company don't make any explicit mention of it in the announcement, this move comes just two weeks after it was made public that Activision Blizzard were being sued for allegedly harbouring a company culture that creates "a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women".
"Starting today, J. Allen Brack will be stepping down as the leader of the studio, and Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will co-lead Blizzard moving forward," reads Blizzard's statement. "Jen and Mike have more than three decades of gaming industry experience between them. Moving forward, they will share responsibilities over game development and company operations."
Brack had been president of the studio since 2018, after former president Mike Morhaime stepped down. Prior to that, he had been with the company since 2005, working as a producer and production director for World Of Warcraft.
Oneal is the former head of Vicarious Visions, who merged with Blizzard back in January. Since then, she's been working as a senior developer on Overwatch and Diablo. Ybarra moved to Blizzard from Xbox in 2019, and until now has been the company's executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology.
In the statements about the staffing changes, they don't say that 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; 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. You’ll hear more from Jen and Mike soon."
Over the last week, the fallout from the the lawsuit (which sees the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sue Activision Blizzard over an alleged culture of sexual harassment and discrimination), has involved thousands of current and former employees signing a letter to condemn the "aborrhent" response from Activision Blizzard, Brack himself, and company executive Frances Townsend to the allegations. On Wednesday last week, staff also held a walkout in protest of the working conditions.
Brack's own statement about his departure says:
"I am confident that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to realize its full potential and will accelerate the pace of change. I anticipate they will do so with passion and enthusiasm and that they can be trusted to lead with the highest levels of integrity and commitment to the components of our culture that make Blizzard so special."