Blizzard just can’t keep out of headlines, can it? After ex-president J. Allen Brack left the studio in August, Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra took his place as co-leaders. Now, a mere 3 months later, Oneal has announced her departure.
Oneal is out
In a statement on Blizzard’s official site, Oneal explained, effective immediately, Ybarra would be the sole head of Blizzard. Oneal is staying on until the end of the year, transitioning into a new role working alongside Activision Blizzard and Women in Games International (a non-profit where she is a board member) to drive long term changes at the games studio to make it a safer and more equal place.
Additionally, Blizzard is providing a $1 million grant to WIGI, which will be used to fund mentorship and training programs.
Oneal wants to make it known that she’s leaving on good terms with the studio and its leadership.
“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,” she writes. “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.”
Blizzard’s leadership has been shaken pretty substantially following the California DFEH’s sexual harassment and discrimination suit filed in June. As mentioned, J. Allen Brack left the company in August, alongside Activision Blizzard’s de facto HR head. Following this, Diablo 4 director Luis Barriga, Overwatch ex-namesake and lead designer Jesse McCree and WoW designer John LeCraft all left their positions.
The sexual harassment suit has had considerable knock-on within Activision Blizzard’s remaining leadership too. Last week CEO Bobby Kotick released a company-wide letter announcing the end of forced arbitration, one of his employees’ major demands, as well as the halving of his salary until certain equality and anti-discrimination goals were met.
In her leaving message, Oneal states that she believes the studio is in good hands with Ybarra.
“Blizzard’s best days are ahead. I truly believe that.”