Activision Blizzard said that longtime exec J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment, is leaving the company.
Brack’s exit comes less than two weeks after Activision Blizzard was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which alleged the company’s “pervasive frat boy workplace culture” resulted in women employees being continuously subjected to sexual harassment and being paid less than men. Brack was named in the lawsuit as being among company execs who were allegedly aware of the misconduct and — despite repeatedly being informed of the problems — “failed to take effective remedial measures in response to these complaints.”
Brack “is leaving the company to pursue new opportunities,” Activision Blizzard president and COO Daniel Alegre said in a statement Tuesday.
In a memo to Blizzard staff in the wake of the California DFEH lawsuit, Brack said the allegations were “troubling,” saying “the fight for equality is incredibly important to me.”
According to the suit, a Blizzard employee complained to Brack in early 2019 that employees were leaving because of sexual harassment and sexism. Specifically, per the DFEH lawsuit, the employee told Brack that women on the Battle.net team were “subjected to disparaging comments, the environment was akin to working in a frat house, and that women who were not ‘huge gamers’ or ‘core gamers’ and not into the party scene were excluded and treated as outsiders.”
Last Tuesday (July 27), Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick promised that the company was taking corrective steps, telling employees in a memo that “we will do a better job of listening now, and in the future. Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf.” A day later, hundreds of Blizzard employees staged a walkout at the company’s Irvine, Calif., headquarters to protest the alleged culture of harassment and discrimination.
With Brack out, EVP of development Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, EVP and GM of platform and technology, have been appointed co-leaders of Blizzard. “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,” Alegre wrote.
Brack, former executive producer of “World of Warcraft,” took over as president of Blizzard after co-founder Michael Morhaime left the company in 2018. Brack had joined Blizzard in January 2006 after working on “Star Wars Galaxies” at Sony Online Entertainment.
In a statement provided by Blizzard, Brack said: “I am confident that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to realize its full potential and will accelerate the pace of change. I anticipate they will do so with passion and enthusiasm and that they can be trusted to lead with the highest levels of integrity and commitment to the components of our culture that make Blizzard so special.”