Blizzard co-lead Jen Oneal is stepping down from the position and resigning from the company after just three months in the role. Her fellow co-lead, Mike Ybarra, will take over full leadership responsibilities for Blizzard Entertainment.
Oneal and Ybarra stepped up as Blizzard co-leads in August, after former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack stepped down and left the company following his being named in the California lawsuit against Activision Blizzard and its alleged abusive and discriminatory workplace culture. Brack’s resignation was made known just prior to Activision Blizzard’s last investment call, with Oneal’s departure coming one quarter later as part of today’s investor call.
Oneal’s resignation sees her stepping into another position at Blizzard temporarily, before leaving the company entirely at the end of the year. She will no longer co-lead with Ybarra effective immediately. Activision Blizzard has pledged to donate $1 million to the non-profit Women in Games International, which is where Oneal is headed when her tenure at Blizzard ends. She is also already a board member of WIGI.
The Washington Post reports that employees at Blizzard are skeptical of the move, which some call “suspicious” as it comes just three months after Oneal stepped into the role. Another said it’s “a really bad sign for the state of things,” given Oneal and Ybarra’s recent hirings.
Before taking over as Blizzard co-lead, Oneal was previously the studio head at Vicarious Visions, or rather, the Blizzard support studio formerly known as Vicarious Visions. VV recently lost its name after being folded into Blizzard earlier this year.
Oneal’s full statement says she is making the move because she is hopeful for Blizzard. “I’m inspired by the passion of everyone here, working towards meaningful, lasting change with their whole hearts,” Oneal said in her email to the company announcing her resignation. “This energy has inspired me to step out and explore how I can do more to have games and diversity intersect, and hopefully make a broader industry impact that will benefit Blizzard (and other studios) as well. While I am not totally sure what form that will take, I am excited to embark on a new journey to find out.”
Today’s Activision Blizzard financial call also revealed delays for Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV, which aren’t expected until 2023 at the earliest now. It’s not yet clear how yet another leadership shakeup at the studio will impact these games that are already pushed out thanks to other recent management changes on their respective teams.