J. Allen Brack is stepping down from his position as director of Blizzard Entertainment. His departure comes just weeks after parent company Activision Blizzard was charged with a “culture of sexual harassment.” Brack is succeeded by a woman and a man.
Effective immediately, Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will jointly manage Blizzard, the director of Activision Blizzard writes in a letter to all employees. The two will be responsible for game development and business operations. According to the letter, Brack will “chase new opportunity.” His departure is not further explained.
The Blizzard director’s departure comes a few weeks after the US state of California filed a lawsuit against publisher Activision Blizzard, because of a ‘culture of sexual harassment’. A two-year investigation revealed that the company discriminates against women in various ways and that there is a culture of sexual harassment of women.
Brack’s name was specifically mentioned in the indictment, The Verge noted. He would be aware of inappropriate behavior and also facilitate that. Brack responded responded to those allegations with a letter to employees, in which he said that he found them ‘extremely disturbing’ and that he wanted to enter into discussions to find solutions.
In an initial response, Activision Blizzard has opposed the allegations. The company ‘did not recognize itself in the complaints outlined’. The publisher also complained that the plaintiffs had not consulted with the company before going to court. Activision Blizzard called that “irresponsible behavior by bureaucrats causing many companies to leave the state of California.” The company’s response came in for a lot of criticism, after which CEO Bobby Kotick wrote in a letter to employees that the response was inappropriate.
Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra succeed Brack together. Oneal had worked at Blizzard for 18 years, until recently she was the head of studio Vicarious Visions. Prior to that, she supported Diablo and Overwatch development in her role as executive vice president of development.
Mike Ybarra was brought in from Blizzard in 2019. Before that, he was CEO of the Xbox division for 7 years and has worked in the games industry for 20 years. He was appointed executive vice president and general manager at Blizzard. The outgoing Allen Brack has been Blizzard’s director since October 2018. He has been with the company since 2005 and has served as executive producer and vice president of World of Warcraft.