Blizzard’s president is out as company announces new leadership
J. Allen Brack was accused of ignoring complaints about harassment and discrimination in a recent lawsuit
Activision Blizzard has announced that Blizzard president J. Allen Brack is leaving the company.
A statement on the Activision Blizzard website from president and COO Daniel Allegre reveals that Brack will be leaving “to pursue new opportunities”.
Replacing him will be Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who have been appointed co-leaders of Blizzard.
Oneal is the former head of Vicarious Visions, and was executive vice president of development at Blizzard prior to her promotion.
Ybarra was employed at Microsoft for 20 years and was corporate vice president of gaming in its Xbox department, before moving to Blizzard in 2019 to become its executive vice president and general manager.
“Jen and Mike will share responsibility for development and operational accountability for the company,” Allegre said.
“Both are leaders of great character and integrity and are deeply committed to ensuring our workplace is the most inspired, welcoming environment for creative excellence and to upholding our highest game development standards.”
He added: “With their many years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusivity, I am certain Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion and a dedication to excellence.”
Brack is one of the few Activision Blizzard employees referred to by name in last month’s lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which accuses the company of failing to handle sexual harassment and discrimination against female employees.
The suit states: “Numerous complaints about unlawful harassment, discrimination and retaliation were made to Defendants’ human resources personnel and executives, including to Blizzard Entertainment‘s president J. Allen Brack. But, Defendants failed to take effective remedial measures in response to these complaints.”
It also alleges that Brack did not act strongly enough following reports that former senior creative director of World of Warcraft, Alex Afrasiabi, was so notorious for harassing female employees that his suite at a company event was known as the ‘Cosby Suite’.
“J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment, allegedly had multiple conversarions with Afrasiabi about his drinking and that he had been ‘too friendly’ towards female employees at company events but gave Afrasiabi a slap on the wrist (i.e. verbal counselling) in response to these incidents,” the suit claims.
“Subsequently, Afrasiabi continued to make unwanted advances towards female employees, including grabbing a female employee’s hand and inviting her to his hotel room and groping another woman.”
Brack sent an email to staff following news of the lawsuit, saying its details were “extremely troubling” and that he would be meeting with staff to “answer questions and discuss how we can move forward.”
Today’s announcement ensures that if Blizzard does move forward, it will be doing so without Brack.