Skip to main content

Blizzard co-lead Jen Oneal steps down

Just three months after she stepped up

Jen Oneal is stepping down as co-lead of Blizzard Entertainment, just three months after she took the position. Since J. Allen Brack left the company in August, Oneal had been in charge of the studio with Mike Ybarra, who'll now take the lead on his own. Oneal claims she's not leaving because she's "without hope for Blizzard", but wants to "do more to have games and diversity intersect, and hopefully make a broader industry impact that will benefit Blizzard (and other studios) as well."

Oneal and Ybarra took up the leading roles at Blizzard back in August, after now-former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack left the company. These changes came just two weeks after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sued Activision Blizzard over an alleged culture of sexual harassment and discrimination. Though it's worth noting the exact reasons for Brack's departure were never explicitly mentioned.

"I want you to hear from me personally that 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," Oneal said in a statement posted last night.

"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."

She adds that Activision Blizzard have agreed to make a $1 million grant (around £733,000, which is really not that much money) to Women in Games International (WIGI), a non-profit organisation where Oneal is a board member. For the rest of her time at the company, her new temporary role will be working with ActiBlizz and WIGI on how the investment will be used, which involve funding skill-building and mentoring programs.

Employee group A Better ABK found out about her departure during last night's investor call, and said it was "a sad moment for many of us at ABK, who were excited to have a new experience with a woman of colour heading our company".

During the call, Mike Ybarra said Oneal had been an "incredible partner" and thanked her for her leadership.

"I want you to know I believe so strongly in Mike and the rest of Blizzard’s leadership both in terms of Blizzard’s culture and Blizzard’s games", Oneal continued "Blizzard's best days are ahead. I truly believe that."

Those days seem a rather long way away, if they're coming at all. During last night's earnings call, the developer revealed that both Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 have been delayed until at least 2023. It's also worth remembering that Activision Blizzard are embroiled in several other legal cases due to allegations of sexual harassment, discriminination and retaliation at the company.

Read this next