Blizzard President J. Allen Brack Steps Down
The first of possibly several dominoes has begun to fall at Blizzard in response to the shocking accusations recently leveled at the company. President J. Allen Brack, who had been with the company for over a decade and took over a leadership role following CEO Mike Morhaime's departure in 2019, has departed the company, as announced by Blizzard today.
Brack has presided over two of Blizzard's worst controversies: the recent accusations of sexual harassment as levied in a lawsuit from the state of California and the Blitzchung incident in late 2019, when a professional Hearthstone was banned following his words of support for Hong Kong during a tournament broadcast. Brack apologized a few days later for how quickly Blitzchung's punishment was levied and reduced it by half, issuing a statement that only mildly assuaged outraged fans.
Still, he seemed to weather that controversial storm fairly well, at least until the DFEH lawsuit came to light. While not specifically named as an abuser, Brack's name did appear in the suit, as he appeared to take insufficient measures to curb the toxic culture at Blizzard. His reputation was further damaged by the unearthing of a video from BlizzCon panel in 2010 where a female gamer asked a panel of developers, including Brack, if the female characters in World of Warcraft could look less like they've "stepped out of a Victoria's Secret catalog." Brack and the others laughed at the question and made fun of it as they asked "which catalog would you like them to step out of?" (Incidentally, Kotaku recently caught up with the woman in the video to get her take on the incident.)
Taking Brack's place, to a degree, will be the pair of Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who "will co-lead Blizzard moving forward." Oneal has been with the company since January, when she arrived from Vicarious Visions, which is now a part of Blizzard. Ybarra joined Blizzard in 2019, coming over from the Xbox team, and he's been "overseeing the evolution of Battle.net and our development services organization." The pair "will share responsibilities over game development and company operations."
There's still plenty more work to be done on Blizzard's, and Activision's, side of things. While the dismissal of Brack might be seen as a step in the right direction, there are fundamental issues at the core of the Activision Blizzard corporate structure that need to be addressed. The issues mentioned in the lawsuit go well beyond one or two people, and until those are addressed, this token action will generate only the smallest measure of goodwill.
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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