President of Blizzard Entertainment, J. Allen Brack, announced on August 3rd that he is going to step down from his position amidst the ongoing, massive sexual harassment lawsuit against the company.
The announcement was made via a press release on Activision Blizzard’s website that states Brack is “leaving the company to pursue new opportunities.” He is being replaced by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra who will be the appointed “co-leaders” of Blizzard and will share responsibility for the company.
For those who may not yet be aware, the state of California is suing Activision Blizzard for what it alleges to be a “frat boy culture” which led to “a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.” According to the lawsuit, some male employees would drink at work and subject female employees to sexual harassment and face absolutely no repercussions. Others would make inappropriate comments and sexual assault jokes.
Activision’s CCO, Fran Townsend, really went ahead and tweeted an article about “the problem with whistleblowing” right after the Activision-Blizzard lawsuit went live.
I have no words. https://t.co/O1Ghcax0wu
— Alanah Pearce (@Charalanahzard) August 2, 2021
The reaction on social media was earth-shattering with people from all over the industry loudly condemning Activision Blizzard. Employees have been protesting outside the company’s main offices in Irvine, California for over a week at the time of this writing.
This brings us to today with Brack’s resignation. Neither the press release nor the post on Blizzard’s news section makes mention of the lawsuit and controversies surrounding it. The statements make it vague on where the former president of the company will go.
Brack wrote in a statement that he is “confident that Oneal and Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to realize its full potential.” It is unknown to what extent Brack knew about the hostile work culture plaguing Blizzard. He sent an e-mail to staff on July 22 addressing the lawsuit and called the allegation “extremely troubling.”
According to the lawsuit, numerous complaints about harassment and discrimination were made to Blizzard executives, including Brack, but they failed to take action.
Mixed Reactions from Fans
Reactions on social media are mixed with some people happy that Brack is resigning while others called the gesture “meaningless”.
#EndAbuseInGaming trended on Twitter the same day Brack stepped down, with an image of support that lists out workers’ demands. As mentioned, Activision Blizzard employees are protesting and formed a coalition called the ABK Workers Alliance.
— queech (@queech_) August 3, 2021
The coalition published a list of demands that seek to protect vulnerable employees. Demands include ending forced arbitration, adopting inclusive hiring practices, increasing pay transparency, and a neutral third party performing an internal investigation. Company CEO Bobby Kotick hired law firm WilmerHale as the third-party auditor to review the company and ensure a better workplace; however, this was criticized by the coalition as the firm has a history of discouraging workers’ rights…
Brack’s resignation and the lawsuit come at an especially difficult time for Blizzard. Fans of the company have been unhappy about the developer’s recent actions and games for many years now.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when attitudes towards Blizzard soured. Public opinion has seen a gradual decrease. One igniting incident was the Diablo Immortal press conference at BlizzCon 2018 that drew widespread criticism and memes making fun of the hosts’ answers.
Presently, fan opinion is at an all-time low.
What do you think of Blizzard’s woes and its standing as a reputable company in today’s day and age? Share your thoughts with us.