Activision Blizzard co-leader Jen Oneal has released a letter detailing her departure from the company. She and Mike Ybarra replaced former president J. Allen Brack in August amid revelations of the company’s misconduct. Oneal stated she will “transition to a new position before departing ABK at the end of the year.” Ybarra will lead the company by himself effective immediately.
In recent months, Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in lawsuits and investigations from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Numerous employees have voiced their discontent and the company has been reeling ever since, with several high-profile figures leaving the company after being implicated in abuse allegations.
In her letter, Oneal does not specify her exact reason for leaving the company, but states that it is not because she has no faith in the company to improve. Per Oneal:
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 also states that Activision Blizzard leadership has been supportive of her decision to leave the company and has agreed to “make a US $1 million grant to Women in Games International,” a non-profit organization where Oneal is a board member.
The choice to promote Oneal, who has historically championed women’s advancement in gaming, was initially welcomed by many Blizzard employees. Several who had worked under her in the past called her “the best studio head [they’ve] ever worked under.” ABetterABK, an employee-led group pushing for improvement within the company, have now expressed their disappointment in the move and that “many … were excited to have a new experience with a Woman of Color heading [their] company.”
This is a sad moment for many of us at ABK, who were excited to have a new experience with a Woman of Color heading our company. We found out during our Shareholder meeting–and wish Jen well in her future endeavors. https://t.co/34aXwCoo8D
— ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) November 2, 2021
Her departure after less than half a year raises some questions as to what may be happening with Blizzard’s current management shuffle.
For more information on the situation, read Upcomer’s comprehensive timeline of the Activision Blizzard lawsuit.