Jen Oneal, who took over the helm of Blizzard Entertainment with Mike Ybarra in August, has stepped down from that role, Activision told Blizzard on Tuesday. Ybarra will remain the sole chief executive of Blizzard with immediate effect.
In a notice to Blizzard employees and fans of their games, Oneal said she was going to take on a new role the non-profit organization Women in Games International (WIGI) starting with a $ 1 million grant from Activision Blizzard to the organization. Oneal announced that it would be leaving Activision Blizzard at the end of the year.
Oneal and Ybarra took over the helm of Blizzard after former President J. Allen Brack resigned in early August. Brack’s resignation came after the state of California filed a sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation lawsuit against Activision Blizzard in late July.
It also came after a large employee demonstration against a toxic “frat boy” workplace that allegedly permeated the company, particularly Blizzard Entertainment, and an apology from Activision boss Bobby Kotick.
“As I have listened to the stories of people across Blizzard and been inspired by their courage and conviction, I have thought about the potential that I, as an individual, can do to make the most significant change,” Oneal said in the statement. The grant will fund qualification and mentoring programs at WIGI, she said.
“I’m not doing this because I’m hopeless for Blizzard, on the contrary,” said Oneal. “I am inspired by the passion of everyone here, who wholeheartedly work towards meaningful, lasting changes.”
Oneal is already a board member of WIGI, an organization “that nurtures and promotes equality and diversity in the global gaming industry,” she said. Oneal added that her new role is not entirely clear yet, but she will “explore how I can do more to combine games and diversity”.
Oneal was formerly the studio manager of Vicarious Visions, which joined Blizzard in January. Following the announcement, she became Executive Vice President of Development at Blizzard. Vicarious Visions, based in Albany, New York, has been relocated to support Blizzard’s development. Activision had owned it since 2005 (Activision and Blizzard merged in 2008). Last week, Vicarious Visions staff was informed that the studio would lose its name, dating back to 1991, and will be fully merged with Blizzard and renamed one of Blizzard’s satellite studios.
Also on Thursday, the management of Activision Blizzard announced to investors that the development of Blizzard Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 is delayed. None of the games had an announced launch date or window, and investors were also not notified of the new timeframe for their delivery.
“These are two of the most highly anticipated titles in the industry and our teams have made great strides toward completion over the past few quarters,” the company said. “But we believe that if they give the teams a little more time to complete production and continue to build their creative resources to support the titles after they are released, we believe that will ensure these releases keep their community excited and excited for years to come . “