Blizzard Boss Jen Oneal Announces She Is Stepping Down After Just 3 Months In New Role
The ABK Workers Alliance says this is a "sad moment" to see a woman of color leave the company.
One of Blizzard's top bosses, Jen Oneal, is leaving the company. Oneal announced her departure from Blizzard Entertainment on Tuesday, just three months after she was named one of the new leaders, alongside Mike Ybarra, of the embattled Warcraft and Diablo studio that has been in the news for sexual harassment and discrimination against women.
Oneal is a board member of the non-profit Women In Games International, and Activision Blizzard is creating a $1 million grant for the organization. The money will be used to "fund skill-building and mentorship programs." Oneal is officially leaving Blizzard at the end of the year.
The specific timing of Oneal's announcement about leaving Blizzard has been a point of discussion. She informed staff at 1:30 PM PT on November 2, and Activision Blizzard management made the announcement publicly at 1:52 PM PT. Given the 22-minute difference, some staffers found out about Oneal's departure with everyone else during the earnings call.
The ABK Workers Alliance social media page, which speaks on behalf of some workers at Activision Blizzard King and has been a vocal advocate for change, responded to the news, saying it is a "sad moment..."
"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," the group said on Twitter.
"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," she said. "While I am not totally sure what form that will take, I am excited to embark on a new journey to find out."
Oneal said she will transition to a new role within Activision Blizzard for the remainder of the year where she will collaborate with the publisher and Women In Games International to come up with a plan for how to use the $1 million grant. "The partnership is full of potential and is another step in a long-term commitment to create better support, resources, and guidance to women in the gaming industry," Oneal said.
Ybarra will be the new leader of Blizzard Entertainment. "Mike and I have been working together to develop many of the actions we’ll be taking to continue making Blizzard a safer, stronger, and more inclusive workplace, and I know he plans on sharing some of those actions with you soon," Oneal said.
"I wanted to tell the Blizzard community this personally because I want you to know I believe so strongly in Mike and the rest of Blizzard’s leadership both in terms of Blizzard's culture and Blizzard's games," Oneal said. "Blizzard's best days are ahead. I truly believe that. I also am hoping this letter helps you to think about what you can do to make everyone around you--no matter their gender, race, or identity--feel welcome, comfortable, and free to be themselves."
Oneal and Ybarra were named the new co-heads of Blizzard in August when CEO J. Allen Brack announced his departure from the company.
Oneal formerly led the team at Vicarious Visions, which recently became a part of Blizzard. She had been the executive vice president of development at Blizzard since January. As for Ybarra, he joined Blizzard in 2019 after a long career at Xbox. Before becoming a top boss at Blizzard, Ybarra served as executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology for Blizzard.
During Activision Blizzard's earnings call, the company acknowledged that Blizzard has been experiencing higher levels of staff turnover in the wake of the lawsuits and investigations. Due in part to this, Blizzard has delayed Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV.
For more, check out GameSpot's timeline of all the notable events in the Activision Blizzard case.
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