Activision Blizzard is one of the biggest names in the gaming industry and the company is attached to many amazingly epic game series such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch. Thanks to a series of acquisitions and several successful franchises, it has risen to become one of the largest game companies in the world.
In recent years, Activision Blizzard has come under fire due to some serious controversies regarding allegations of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. As a result, some employees were fired or left in protest. This is part of a larger trend happening with Activision Blizzard, which has seen the company lose several key employees over the past year. Therefore, for better or for worse, Activision Blizzard is not the same company it once was.
J. Allen Brack
In August 2021, J. Allen Brack, head of Blizzard, left the company. He has been with Blizzard for over a decade and served as the leader of World of Warcraftdevelopment team of. As of 2018, he serves as the president of Blizzard.
His replacements are Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who serve as co-leaders of Blizzard. According to a press release issued by Activision Blizzard, Jen and Mike are responsible for “operating and development accountability” within the company. Oneal has experience in the gaming industry and was previously the director of Vicarious Visions studio. She has also served as the Executive Vice President of Development at Blizzard. Mike, also an industry veterinarian, previously served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of Platforms and Technology at Blizzard.
While there isn’t much explanation for his departure, Activision Blizzard’s press release states that he continues to pursue new opportunities. In the harassment and discrimination lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, Brack was named. The lawsuit alleges that Brack only slapped the wrist of the male employee who harassed the woman.
Although appointed as co-lead Blizzard in August 2021Jen Oneal has announced that she will be stepping down. This left Mike Ybarra to lead Blizzard alone. As Oneal explained in a public statement, her reason for leaving was not because she lost hope in Blizzard. Instead, she’s aware of all the problems in the game industry, and she wants to explore how she can make games and diversity better intersect.
Oneal is a board member of Women in Games International, a non-profit organization that strives to promote equality and diversity in the gaming industry worldwide. To show support for Oneal’s decision, Activision Blizzard donated $1 million to the organization. While she will no longer be the head of Blizzard, she will work closely with Activision Blizzard to ensure the grant is used effectively.
Jeff Kaplan worked at Blizzard for a number of years. He got Blizzard’s attention through playing an MMO game called Everquest, where he befriends fellow guild members who used to work at Blizzard. They invited him into the company and he was hired in 2002. Kaplan originally started improve World of Warcraft, eventually becoming one of the game directors.
In 2009, he stepped down as game director to work on a new Blizzard game titled Titan. Although that game will never have daylight, many elements from that project will be used in the game. Overwatch, with Kaplan as chief director. Needless to say, Overwatch was a huge success and remains one of Activision Blizzard’s most successful games. After nineteen years at Blizzard, Kaplan left the company in April 2021. He was replaced by Aaron Keller. In September 2021, Overwatch 2 make manufacturer Chacko Sonny also left Blizzard.
Jesse McCree, a lead designer at Blizzard, left the company in 2021. He shares the same name as Overwatch Jesse McCree character who was renamed Cole Cassidy. World of WarcraftEredath’s area was also originally named Mac’Aree, possibly a reference to Jesse McCree.
Jesse’s departure from Blizzard is controversial. He passed away amid allegations of workplace harassment by Activision Blizzard. He was one of the employees pictured in the infamous BlizzCon Cosby Suite. According to lawsuits against Activision Blizzard, women were harassed in a room owned by World of Warcraft Developer Alex Afrasiabi.
World of Warcraft
Three other Activision Blizzard employees left the company following harassment and discrimination scandals; Alex Afrasiabi, Luis Barriga and Jonathan LeCraft. Afrasiabi served as Senior Creative Director for World of Warcraftand he has been with the company since 2004. LeCraft served as a designer for World of Warcraft. Barriga has been with Blizzard since 2005. He is the lead game designer for World of Warcraft. He is also a game director for Diablo IV.
According to Activision Blizzard, Afrasiabi was fired in 2020 for “his misconduct in the treatment of other employees.” However, he is named in the 2021 lawsuit against Activision Blizzard. In the lawsuit, it is alleged that Afrasiabi harassed female employees in front of other male employees, and also called them by derogatory names. LeCraft leaves at the same time as Jesse McCree and Luis Barriga in 2021.
While big names have been listed as the most prominent employees who have left Activision Blizzard recently, they are not the only ones to leave the company in the last year. In the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination, several other less senior employees left in protest. While several changes to the company were made to remedy the situation, some leaders remained. Most notably Bobby Kotick, who Activision Blizzard CEO, remained in his position despite calls to remove him following allegations that he was aware of ongoing wrongdoing at the company. Therefore, the remaining player must question whether any meaningful change has occurred.
The release of upcoming titles like Diablo IV and Overwatch 2 Will prove even though Activision Blizzard are in their dying days, or whether the gaming giant can rise again.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick demanded the minimum wage allowed by California Law until the company’s workplace culture improved.
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https://gamerant.com/activision-blizzard-employees-left-kaplan-mccree-brack/ All major Activision Blizzard employees have left in the past year