Blizzard’s Jen Oneal steps down to join women in games nonprofit
Jen Oneal, who took over as CEO of Blizzard Entertainment with Mike Ybarra in August, has stepped down from the role, Activision Blizzard announced on Tuesday. Ybarra will continue on his own as a senior Blizzard executive, with immediate effect.
In a note to Blizzard employees and fans of their games, Oneal said she will take on a new role within the nonprofit Women in Games International (WIGI), starting with a grant from a million dollars from Activision Blizzard to the organization. Oneal has said she will be leaving Activision Blizzard by the end of the year.
Oneal and Ybarra took over as Blizzard after the resignation of former president J. Allen Brack in early August. Brack’s resignation follows a complaint by the State of California, alleging sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation, against Activision Blizzard in late July.
It also came after a large employee protest against a toxic “frat boy” workplace supposedly permeating the company, Blizzard Entertainment in particular, and an apology from Activision CEO Bobby Kotick.
“Listening to the stories of people all over Blizzard and being inspired by their courage and conviction, I have reflected on the potential of what I can do as an individual to create the most meaningful change,” Oneal said. in the statement. The grant will fund skills-building and mentoring programs at WIGI, she said.
“I’m not doing it because I’m hopeless for Blizzard, quite the opposite,” Oneal said. “I am inspired by the passion of everyone here, working with all of their hearts towards meaningful and lasting change. “
Oneal is already a member of the board of directors of WIGI, an organization “that cultivates and advances equality and diversity in the global games industry,” she said. Oneal added that her new role is not entirely clear yet, but that she “will explore how I can do more so that games and diversity intersect.”
Oneal was previously the studio manager for Vicarious Visions, which joined Blizzard in January. She became executive vice president of development at Blizzard after the announcement. Vicarious Visions, based in Albany, New York, moved to support Blizzard’s development; Activision had owned it since 2005 (Activision and Blizzard merged in 2008). Last week, Vicarious Visions employees learned that the studio would lose its name, which dates back to 1991 and completely merge with Blizzard, and that it would be renamed as one of Blizzard’s satellite studios.
Also on Thursday, the executive management of Activision Blizzard told investors that development on Blizzard Monitoring 2 and Diablo 4 is delayed. Neither game had an announced launch date or window, nor were investors notified of the new delivery timeframe.
“These are two of the most anticipated titles in the industry, and our teams have made great strides towards completion over the past few quarters,” the company said. “But we believe giving teams a little more time to complete production and continue to develop their creative resources to support titles after launch will ensure these releases will delight and engage their communities for many years to come.”