News just broke out that Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack has left the company. The recent California lawsuit has shaken Activision Blizzard to their very core, and major changes such as this were already expected.
J. Allen Brack has been a part of Blizzard for more than 15 years, but it was only in 2018 that he became the president after the former Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime stepped down. During this time, the company achieved record numbers in terms of profit, but their player base and the wider community continued to suffer rapid decline.
What happens with Blizzard now?
We have to remember that Activision Blizzard is a publicly traded company, and while Blizzard still does have free reins to create games according to their own vision, Activision still plays a large role in all the executive decisions.
J. Allen Brack will no longer be leading Blizzard, but two new co-leaders have been appointed instead – Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra. This is the first time we see Blizzard Entertainment having two people leading the company, and while it might feel a little strange, it was certainly a much-needed change.
Jen Oneal ran Vicarious Vision before joining Blizzard as an executive. They are the team that brought us classics such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, the Crash Bandicoot trilogy, and many other games. They are also in charge of the new Diablo 2 Resurrected, and it’s safe to say that Blizzard fans have been thrilled with what Vicarious Vision have been doing so far.
Mike Ybarra, on the other hand, worked for Microsoft for nearly 20 years and was in charge of Xbox online services. Although you’ll see him in a suit and a tie, you might not realize that he’s also a very active player in World of Warcraft. He has completed many in-game challenges that only some of the most dedicated WoW players have done, which indicates that he’s connected to the game on a much deeper level than many other higher-ups in Blizzard.
The former president J. Allen Brack left the following message:
“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.”
The fire from the Lawsuit still rages on
This entire chain of events was triggered by the recent California lawsuit against Activision Blizzard. The alleged claims of sexual discrimination and harassment were met with outrage, both from the public and the company staff.
Blizzard employees staged a walkout shortly after the lawsuit, while at the same time, more and more news about the situation kept surfacing.
The Blizzard community took this pretty hard. It was always known that Blizzard had some of the most loyal and loving fans out of any of the gaming companies. For years, die-hard fans stood by Blizzard, even when they released rushed expansions that lacked any engaging content, or games that were totally mismanaged – like the case of Warcraft 3: Reforged.
Despite all of this, the fans always kept coming back and giving Blizzard another chance. However, this lawsuit changed things forever, and suddenly all of the people in Blizzard the fans once held in such high regard were painted in a completely different light.
A lot of World of Warcraft streamers, whose livelihood depends on the game, have actually quit the game and cancelled their subscription. Same goes for many of the players. The trust that Blizzard once had was now broken, and something like that can hardly ever be pieced back together again.
What the future holds
The future of Blizzard is uncertain, but hope still remains. The fact that Blizzard now has two co-leaders means that things could be moving at a much faster pace, given that both people in charge have a lot of experience and have shown to be very capable in these positions.
On the other hand, Activision could gain even more control over Blizzard now. Titles in corporate environments mean a lot. Blizzard first had a CEO, then they had a president, and now we have co-leaders. This might not mean anything, but it also could be a sign of Activision slowly taking over.
Let’s look at the bright side, though. Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra are incredibly competent leaders, and judging by their past performance, it seems as these two are the perfect fit to lead Blizzard and oversee the development of their current and upcoming games. If things go well, we might see a Blizzard renaissance in the future. On top of that, they might even be able to salvage their reputation and earn back the lost trust from their fans.