On July 20, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard alleging "numerous allegations of illegal harassment, discrimination and retaliation" against the company. Shortly afterwards, more than 3,000 Activision Blizzard employees signed an open letter to management to talk about the victims and call for "official statements recognizing the seriousness of the allegations and showing compassion for the victims of harassment and aggression ".
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick promised a quick response. Today Blizzard has announced this that J. Allen Brack leaves his position as president of the studio, to be replaced by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra as co-heads of the studio.
Jen Oneal has been with Blizzard since January, before which she was the studio head of Vicarious Visions. Mike Ybarra was a longtime Xbox employee, holding various positions there, before joining Blizzard in 2019 as executive vice president. The Blizzard statement says, "Jen and Mike have more than three decades of experience in the gaming industry. Going forward, they will share responsibilities for game development and the company's operations."
Brack had been named in the California lawsuit, specifically about how he had handled allegations made against Alex Afrasiabi by drinking too much and harassing women employed at company events. The alleged punishment of Brack by Afrasiabi, the verbal counsel, meant little more than a slap on the wrist for this behavior.
Brack was also on stage during a 2010 Blizzcon Q&A panel where the various developers were answered. asking a question about the excessive sexualization of the characters is simply embarrassing.
Today's Blizzard statement goes on to explain that this change is related to work culture:
"Both leaders are deeply committed to all of our employees; with the work to be done to ensure that Blizzard is the safest and most welcoming workplace possible for women and people of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or background; to maintain and to strengthen our values, and to rebuild your trust.With their many years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusion, Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion and dedication. 39; excellence ".
As Stephen Totilo, a journalist and former EOT at Kotaku EIC, pointed out, the time seems to be tied to a quarterly revenue call in which Brack would have been expected to ask questions.
Timing tracks. Activision Blizzard reports quarterly earnings today and, if they do as usual, will receive live calls from analysts. Brack, as head of Blizzard, is usually on these calls. https://t.co/L1dVX93CKMAugust 3, 2021
Here is a statement from J. Allen Brack, president of the release of Blizzard:
"I am confident that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to reach its full potential and accelerate the pace of change. I anticipate that they will do so with passion and enthusiasm and that they can be trusted to lead at the highest levels. of integrity and commitment to the components of our culture that make Blizzard so special.
"Finally, thank you all for being part of the Blizzard community and for your passion and determination for security and equality for all."
The discrimination lawsuit is just the latest in a long string of Blizzard management-related controversies in recent times (here’s a timeline of how the company’s reputation has fallen in the past three years). Amid massive layoffs, numerous reports about their toxic workplace and long-awaited releases according to reports sabotaged by mismanagement, the perception of the formerly beloved PC game developer has completely changed.
California lawsuits against Blizzard are still pending and could take months or years – here's everything we know about the current situation.