Blizzard president J. Allen Brack steps down amid sexual harassment lawsuit against parent...

midian182

Posts: 7,081   +62
Staff member
What just happened? Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack is leaving his position amid a lawsuit accusing parent company Activision Blizzard of harassment, discrimination, sexism, and fostering a "frat boy" culture. Brack, who was named in the suit, is leaving to "pursue new opportunities."

A statement from Blizzard, which you can read below, explains that Brack is "stepping down" from his position as leader of the studio from today and being replaced by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who will co-lead the company.

Brack released his own statement:

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.

There was also a separate announcement on Activision's investor relations page that reveals Bracks' plans to seek new opportunities.

Brack had been at Blizzard since 2006 and took over the company in 2018, having led development on World of Warcraft. In the lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing nearly two weeks ago, it's alleged that he was aware of the cited behavior as he had received complaints directly but did little more than hand out "slap on the wrist" punishments.

Blizzard's statement notes that Oneal, the former head of Vicarious Visions, joined the company in January as executive vice president of development where she's been working on the Diablo and Overwatch franchises. Ybarra, meanwhile, joined in 2019 as the executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology following many years at Xbox. He's been overseeing Battle.net.

Activision Blizzard's response to the lawsuit has been condemned by many within the games industry. It said the filing included "distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard's past," while Activision Blizzard executive Frances Townsend called it "truly meritless and irresponsible." The company's stance resulted in a mass walkout by employees last week. It also appears that T-Mobile may have terminated its partnership with the Call of Duty and Overwatch leagues over the bad publicity.

Full Blizzard Entertainment statement:

To all members of the Blizzard Community,

We want to let you know about an important leadership change at Blizzard Entertainment.

Starting today, J. Allen Brack will be stepping down as the leader of the studio, and Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will co-lead Blizzard moving forward.

Jen joined Blizzard in January as executive vice president of development, where she's been providing senior development leadership and support to the Diablo and Overwatch franchises. Jen is the former head of Vicarious Visions (which is now part of Blizzard Entertainment).

After many years at XBOX, Mike joined the company in 2019 as the executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology, where he's been overseeing the evolution of Battle.net and our development services organization.

Jen and Mike have more than three decades of gaming industry experience between them. Moving forward, they will share responsibilities over game development and company operations.

Both leaders are deeply committed to all of our employees; to the work ahead to ensure Blizzard is the safest, most welcoming workplace possible for women, and people of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or background; to upholding and reinforcing our values; and to rebuilding your trust. With their many years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusivity, Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion, and a dedication to excellence. You'll hear more from Jen and Mike soon.

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Neatfeatguy

Posts: 444   +709
I'd like to say that it surprises me how things can just be ignored and not resolved with improper sexual type behavior at a work place, but what I had to deal with and how long it took and what measures I had to go to....I'm not surprised.


A manager at my work constantly walked around with his shirt unbuttoned and opened, showing off his chest/nipples and wearing pants so small/tight that and he kept thrusting his privates/pelvis forward to show off his "bulge" to all female employees. He'd walk up to them, pulling his shirt open to further expose his nipples and find ways to draw attention to his "bulge" as he talked to female employees. Some of these female employees went to our supervisor and told them about his dressing and his behavior, but nothing was ever done about it. They complained multiple times and even went to HR, but nothing was done about it.

The manager would even approach his supervisors and owners dressed like he was and none of them every said anything about it. I even had the HR lady tell the manager that she liked the way he dressed - this only reinforced this guy's bad behavior.

I got tired of it and started complaining to my supervisor and even mentioned it to HR. After telling my supervisor about it one day she said to me, "If you don't like looking at him, then just look the other way."

That comment pissed me off so I made it my job to make sure this situation was resolved.

I made sure to document everything I did to cover my a$s.

I outlined the problem and how a manager's work outfit was improper, and even outlined how it was improper due to the employee handbook. I outlined safety issues the manager's outfit would cause as well in the manufacturing environment we work in - his loose clothing (open shirt) could get caught in a machine and hurt him or his exposed skin could be burned/cut. The employee handbook even states that loose clothing needs to be not worn, but if it is it shirts need to be tucked in or pinned back and long hair has to be back and secured.

I outlined how unprofessional the manager was in his appearance and how he shouldn't be dressing the way he was because he would be part of meetings with customers and he would conduct interviews with possible new hires....his appearance was part of the face of the company as a whole and how he presented himself was disgusting.

I provided names of other employees that were disgusted by his outfit; I was giving names, dates and times interactions happened between employees and the manager in question. I gave quotes from employees that they signed and dated as being correct on what they have said about the manager and his dress attire and how it makes the employees feel disgusted when around him. All this was passed along to our supervisor and HR, but nothing was done.

I gave the company many opportunities to correct the situation and they did nothing. I had pictures of owners talking with the manager, out in the open, as the manager was inappropriately dressed and they said nothing to him. I had pictures of the manager inappropriately dressed and doing interviews with possible new hires and even pictures of how he was dressed interacting with female employees and visiting customers....all this information that I provided to HR, the manager's supervisors and finally to the owners. Yet nothing was doing. I explained how this was all just an awful sexual harassment case waiting to happen once the "wrong" person at work decides to file for sexual harassment.....all the info I provided to them and I made records of with dates/times and who I gave all this information to multiples times would be used against them and they'd lose. They would lose their as$es in the case. Still, nothing was done.

After almost 5 months, I told ownership that if nothing was done to fix this situation that I would escalate the problem outside of work to whatever level I had to because I care about the company and my fellow coworkers. I wanted the issue fixed to prevent some kind of lawsuit down the road that could decimate the company. Once I did this ownership was pissed and my supervisor told me that she was informed by one of the owners that I need to drop this and stop stirring the pot or actions would be taken against me. I made note of everything told to me by my supervisor and advised HR that my job was being threatened by my supervisor and ownership and any actions taken against me would be meet in return by filing with EEOC and talking with my wife's cousin that handles employee lawsuits for a large firm. I told the HR lady that I was trying to help the company that I care about to prevent an unwinable (is that a word?) lawsuit for sexual harassment and this is how I am being treated by my supervisor and owners - I fear for retaliation of my job because I'm trying to do what is right. It was finally after this conversation that something was done about the manager's inappropriate work attire.

tl;dr
I had to hound management, HR and eventually ownership to fix a very improper work, clothing attire issue by the guy in management. It took nearly 5 months to get any kind of action from them until I threatened them with actions outside of work once I was informed my job was on the line if I kept speaking out about it.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,193   +2,212
tl;dr
I had to hound management, HR and eventually ownership to fix a very improper work, clothing attire issue by the guy in management. It took nearly 5 months to get any kind of action from them until I threatened them with actions outside of work once I was informed my job was on the line if I kept speaking out about it.
Before we go any further, I just want to say I am not standing up for the guy in your story at all. Or management/HR being so utterly useless. I am simply playing devil's advocate and seeing it from a different prospective.

When a woman wears a particularly tight top / tight leggings or what have you. What do you reckon the response would be if a guy complained to HR/management about it? Because I'm fairly sure the response would be just as lacklustre.

Which then leads on to companies not setting proper attire rules or at least, not enforcing them properly.
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 444   +709
Before we go any further, I just want to say I am not standing up for the guy in your story at all. Or management/HR being so utterly useless. I am simply playing devil's advocate and seeing it from a different prospective.

When a woman wears a particularly tight top / tight leggings or what have you. What do you reckon the response would be if a guy complained to HR/management about it? Because I'm fairly sure the response would be just as lacklustre.

Which then leads on to companies not setting proper attire rules or at least, not enforcing them properly.
I love how people are quick to make this comment because they assume.

I've went to them all before with women that dress inappropriately. The women were all made to change their clothing each time it was brought up.

This manager was not made to change his clothing and even after many people had lodged complaints. They were always quick to force the hands of female employees when it came to dress issues, but not for this guy....not until I pressed hard enough.
 

Shaitan

Posts: 121   +127
I'd like to say that it surprises me how things can just be ignored and not resolved with improper sexual type behavior at a work place, but what I had to deal with and how long it took and what measures I had to go to....I'm not surprised.


A manager at my work constantly walked around with his shirt unbuttoned and opened, showing off his chest/nipples and wearing pants so small/tight that and he kept thrusting his privates/pelvis forward to show off his "bulge" to all female employees. He'd walk up to them, pulling his shirt open to further expose his nipples and find ways to draw attention to his "bulge" as he talked to female employees. Some of these female employees went to our supervisor and told them about his dressing and his behavior, but nothing was ever done about it. They complained multiple times and even went to HR, but nothing was done about it.

The manager would even approach his supervisors and owners dressed like he was and none of them every said anything about it. I even had the HR lady tell the manager that she liked the way he dressed - this only reinforced this guy's bad behavior.

I got tired of it and started complaining to my supervisor and even mentioned it to HR. After telling my supervisor about it one day she said to me, "If you don't like looking at him, then just look the other way."

That comment pissed me off so I made it my job to make sure this situation was resolved.

I made sure to document everything I did to cover my a$s.

I outlined the problem and how a manager's work outfit was improper, and even outlined how it was improper due to the employee handbook. I outlined safety issues the manager's outfit would cause as well in the manufacturing environment we work in - his loose clothing (open shirt) could get caught in a machine and hurt him or his exposed skin could be burned/cut. The employee handbook even states that loose clothing needs to be not worn, but if it is it shirts need to be tucked in or pinned back and long hair has to be back and secured.

I outlined how unprofessional the manager was in his appearance and how he shouldn't be dressing the way he was because he would be part of meetings with customers and he would conduct interviews with possible new hires....his appearance was part of the face of the company as a whole and how he presented himself was disgusting.

I provided names of other employees that were disgusted by his outfit; I was giving names, dates and times interactions happened between employees and the manager in question. I gave quotes from employees that they signed and dated as being correct on what they have said about the manager and his dress attire and how it makes the employees feel disgusted when around him. All this was passed along to our supervisor and HR, but nothing was done.

I gave the company many opportunities to correct the situation and they did nothing. I had pictures of owners talking with the manager, out in the open, as the manager was inappropriately dressed and they said nothing to him. I had pictures of the manager inappropriately dressed and doing interviews with possible new hires and even pictures of how he was dressed interacting with female employees and visiting customers....all this information that I provided to HR, the manager's supervisors and finally to the owners. Yet nothing was doing. I explained how this was all just an awful sexual harassment case waiting to happen once the "wrong" person at work decides to file for sexual harassment.....all the info I provided to them and I made records of with dates/times and who I gave all this information to multiples times would be used against them and they'd lose. They would lose their as$es in the case. Still, nothing was done.

After almost 5 months, I told ownership that if nothing was done to fix this situation that I would escalate the problem outside of work to whatever level I had to because I care about the company and my fellow coworkers. I wanted the issue fixed to prevent some kind of lawsuit down the road that could decimate the company. Once I did this ownership was pissed and my supervisor told me that she was informed by one of the owners that I need to drop this and stop stirring the pot or actions would be taken against me. I made note of everything told to me by my supervisor and advised HR that my job was being threatened by my supervisor and ownership and any actions taken against me would be meet in return by filing with EEOC and talking with my wife's cousin that handles employee lawsuits for a large firm. I told the HR lady that I was trying to help the company that I care about to prevent an unwinable (is that a word?) lawsuit for sexual harassment and this is how I am being treated by my supervisor and owners - I fear for retaliation of my job because I'm trying to do what is right. It was finally after this conversation that something was done about the manager's inappropriate work attire.

tl;dr
I had to hound management, HR and eventually ownership to fix a very improper work, clothing attire issue by the guy in management. It took nearly 5 months to get any kind of action from them until I threatened them with actions outside of work once I was informed my job was on the line if I kept speaking out about it.
I'd like to say that it surprises me how things can just be ignored and not resolved with improper sexual type behavior at a work place, but what I had to deal with and how long it took and what measures I had to go to....I'm not surprised.


A manager at my work constantly walked around with his shirt unbuttoned and opened, showing off his chest/nipples and wearing pants so small/tight that and he kept thrusting his privates/pelvis forward to show off his "bulge" to all female employees. He'd walk up to them, pulling his shirt open to further expose his nipples and find ways to draw attention to his "bulge" as he talked to female employees. Some of these female employees went to our supervisor and told them about his dressing and his behavior, but nothing was ever done about it. They complained multiple times and even went to HR, but nothing was done about it.

The manager would even approach his supervisors and owners dressed like he was and none of them every said anything about it. I even had the HR lady tell the manager that she liked the way he dressed - this only reinforced this guy's bad behavior.

I got tired of it and started complaining to my supervisor and even mentioned it to HR. After telling my supervisor about it one day she said to me, "If you don't like looking at him, then just look the other way."

That comment pissed me off so I made it my job to make sure this situation was resolved.

I made sure to document everything I did to cover my a$s.

I outlined the problem and how a manager's work outfit was improper, and even outlined how it was improper due to the employee handbook. I outlined safety issues the manager's outfit would cause as well in the manufacturing environment we work in - his loose clothing (open shirt) could get caught in a machine and hurt him or his exposed skin could be burned/cut. The employee handbook even states that loose clothing needs to be not worn, but if it is it shirts need to be tucked in or pinned back and long hair has to be back and secured.

I outlined how unprofessional the manager was in his appearance and how he shouldn't be dressing the way he was because he would be part of meetings with customers and he would conduct interviews with possible new hires....his appearance was part of the face of the company as a whole and how he presented himself was disgusting.

I provided names of other employees that were disgusted by his outfit; I was giving names, dates and times interactions happened between employees and the manager in question. I gave quotes from employees that they signed and dated as being correct on what they have said about the manager and his dress attire and how it makes the employees feel disgusted when around him. All this was passed along to our supervisor and HR, but nothing was done.

I gave the company many opportunities to correct the situation and they did nothing. I had pictures of owners talking with the manager, out in the open, as the manager was inappropriately dressed and they said nothing to him. I had pictures of the manager inappropriately dressed and doing interviews with possible new hires and even pictures of how he was dressed interacting with female employees and visiting customers....all this information that I provided to HR, the manager's supervisors and finally to the owners. Yet nothing was doing. I explained how this was all just an awful sexual harassment case waiting to happen once the "wrong" person at work decides to file for sexual harassment.....all the info I provided to them and I made records of with dates/times and who I gave all this information to multiples times would be used against them and they'd lose. They would lose their as$es in the case. Still, nothing was done.

After almost 5 months, I told ownership that if nothing was done to fix this situation that I would escalate the problem outside of work to whatever level I had to because I care about the company and my fellow coworkers. I wanted the issue fixed to prevent some kind of lawsuit down the road that could decimate the company. Once I did this ownership was pissed and my supervisor told me that she was informed by one of the owners that I need to drop this and stop stirring the pot or actions would be taken against me. I made note of everything told to me by my supervisor and advised HR that my job was being threatened by my supervisor and ownership and any actions taken against me would be meet in return by filing with EEOC and talking with my wife's cousin that handles employee lawsuits for a large firm. I told the HR lady that I was trying to help the company that I care about to prevent an unwinable (is that a word?) lawsuit for sexual harassment and this is how I am being treated by my supervisor and owners - I fear for retaliation of my job because I'm trying to do what is right. It was finally after this conversation that something was done about the manager's inappropriate work attire.

tl;dr
I had to hound management, HR and eventually ownership to fix a very improper work, clothing attire issue by the guy in management. It took nearly 5 months to get any kind of action from them until I threatened them with actions outside of work once I was informed my job was on the line if I kept speaking out about it.
Good on them.
I wouldn't care if people go out d__ks hanging if the productivity is rocketing. I don't care about allegations of misconduct regarding male or female employees if my product rakes in billions.
Blizzard stopped being great the day they chose to go virtue signaling. The day they lost the frat-boy culture and became woke is the day their games started declining.
As a male adult, I couldn't possibly care less what the hell happens at Blizzard. I wanted quality games - regardless of the "MALE TOXIC ENVIRONMENT". LoL. When playing Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo (and probably most of "toxic male gamers" like myself) DO NOT CARE about the gender representation in a game. If a 'woke' female character is forced down my throat in a game: NOT buying. Ever. I vote with my wallet, so Ghostbusters 2016, Star Wars Mary Sue, Terminator and other movies like that have and will fail.
When I see a trend in replacing a male actor, action figure, race, gender, etc just to please the mad Twitter crowd and game "journalists", my only response is to NOT PAY for anything remotely leaning towards gender politics, patronizing political bullshit.
No, I'm not American. No, I wouldn't have voted for Trump (in 2020) but guilt-tripping the white male needs to stop. I never owned slaves, I was just as poor as everyone else in an Eastern European country, but the relentless media attacks towards the male figures make me lean towards extremists, as you can only answer with anti-feminism to the crazy claims like "all men are rapists".
wanna see what happens when these political ideologies become unbearable? Poland: far-right banned abortion. Hungary: LGBT rights are getting restricted. But I'd rather vote for the crazy right-wingers than for the "straight white people bad" mad left....
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,193   +2,212
I love how people are quick to make this comment because they assume.

I've went to them all before with women that dress inappropriately. The women were all made to change their clothing each time it was brought up.

This manager was not made to change his clothing and even after many people had lodged complaints. They were always quick to force the hands of female employees when it came to dress issues, but not for this guy....not until I pressed hard enough.
Fair enough, it's the opposite where I work, women can get away with nearly anything, guys get told specifically what they have to wear or else.
 

Vanderkaum037

Posts: 24   +33
I don't care about Blizzard's corporate culture. I do care that they banned a player from a tournament and made him forfeit any prize money as punishment for speaking up for his country. I do care that they haven't made a solid game in a decade.
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,866   +3,749
TechSpot Elite
Good on them.
I wouldn't care if people go out d__ks hanging if the productivity is rocketing. I don't care about allegations of misconduct regarding male or female employees if my product rakes in billions.
Blizzard stopped being great the day they chose to go virtue signaling. The day they lost the frat-boy culture and became woke is the day their games started declining.
As a male adult, I couldn't possibly care less what the hell happens at Blizzard. I wanted quality games - regardless of the "MALE TOXIC ENVIRONMENT". LoL. When playing Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo (and probably most of "toxic male gamers" like myself) DO NOT CARE about the gender representation in a game. If a 'woke' female character is forced down my throat in a game: NOT buying. Ever. I vote with my wallet, so Ghostbusters 2016, Star Wars Mary Sue, Terminator and other movies like that have and will fail.
When I see a trend in replacing a male actor, action figure, race, gender, etc just to please the mad Twitter crowd and game "journalists", my only response is to NOT PAY for anything remotely leaning towards gender politics, patronizing political bullshit.
No, I'm not American. No, I wouldn't have voted for Trump (in 2020) but guilt-tripping the white male needs to stop. I never owned slaves, I was just as poor as everyone else in an Eastern European country, but the relentless media attacks towards the male figures make me lean towards extremists, as you can only answer with anti-feminism to the crazy claims like "all men are rapists".
wanna see what happens when these political ideologies become unbearable? Poland: far-right banned abortion. Hungary: LGBT rights are getting restricted. But I'd rather vote for the crazy right-wingers than for the "straight white people bad" mad left....
"The day they lost the frat-boy culture and became woke is the day their games started declining"- WRONG, it's the exact opposite.

There is a difference between having a good company culture, which Blizzard had in its heyday, and what the hell they have been doing in the last 10 or so years. This "frat culture" destroyed all the talent in the company, chased good people away and created a toxic community that in turn made games worse (even the story in WoW became a toxic mess). And in turn the toxicity was imprinted in its fanbase.

Games at Blizzard stopped being made by people who loved the work they were doing and everything became a mess.

The Blizzard you see today is NOT the Blizzard you fell in love with. It's just someone else using the name, destroying its legacy.

On a final note: Blizzard isn't "woke".
 
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Burty117

Posts: 4,193   +2,212
Blizzard isn't "woke".
So we're ignoring Overwatch and newer WoW expansions then... Gotcha...

Probably why Overwatch 2 is taking so long, they're trying to figure out how to squeeze more LGBT / gay / lesbian characters in.

And did you ever run into the gay horse couple in shadowlands? It was the most forced and cringey quest I'd encountered. The voice acting was almost offensive to gay couples.
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,866   +3,749
TechSpot Elite
So we're ignoring Overwatch and newer WoW expansions then... Gotcha...

Probably why Overwatch 2 is taking so long, they're trying to figure out how to squeeze more LGBT / gay / lesbian characters in.

And did you ever run into the gay horse couple in shadowlands? It was the most forced and cringey quest I'd encountered. The voice acting was almost offensive to gay couples.
We are talking about the company culture here not the content they are pushing. The company itself isn't "woke" even if they follow the trend for the games.

And the only thing I consider "woke" was Overwatch and its characters that borrowed things from that. It's more akin to PR telling the devs what they should add in.
 

trparky

Posts: 946   +1,009
From what I've been hearing from other sources that have more details from actual employees inside Blizzard, it's not just the women who complained about said sexual harassment issues. Men complained too. Apparently, there were some men who were touched and otherwise felt up by other men inside the office environment. So, to say that this was a woman's only issue, nope... not at all.

One of the men who reported on these issues described the work environment as if it was straight out of National Lampoon's Animal House. Typical frat boy mentality.
 
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DoomSlayer

Posts: 18   +17
Blizzard is one of the greediest game company I have ever seen.

Experience #1: bought Starcraft 2 and it has region lock, sure I could ask a representative to change my region for free but it was a hassle, later Blizzard allowed people to change region in the launcher.
Experience #2: bought Diablo 3 in South Korea and it has unremovable region lock, so 40$ gone.
Experience #3: Overwatch was a pile of crap that constanly trying to get rid of seasoned players.

So yeah, hopefully Blizzard rot away and their developers move to a better company.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,193   +2,212
Experience #3: Overwatch was a pile of crap that constantly trying to get rid of seasoned players.
Agreed, I really liked Overwatch for the first year or so. The updates though, they started to really drop off and it legitimately felt like they were updating the game to try and get rid of their own player base.