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Blizzard's Jen Oneal Stepping Down As Co-Leader Of Company, Mike Ybarra Taking Over As Sole Leader Of Blizzard

Joseph Bradford Updated: Posted:
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Today during today's Activision Blizzard Q3 2021 Earnings Call, Blizzard Co-leader Jen Oneal will be stepping down by the end of the year. This would leave co-leader Mike Ybarra as the sole head of the MMORPG developer moving forward.

The announcement was made during today's earnings call, with Blizzard releasing a message from Oneal on their website around the same time, explaining the move. Jen Oneal took over in August as co-leader of Blizzard with former Microsoft executive Mike Ybarra following the resignation of J. Allen Brack in the wake of the lawsuit facing Activision Blizzard. 

In the statement from Oneal, the executive states that leaving Blizzard at this juncture does not signal a lack of hope for the gains and work the company has done since the lawsuit leveled at the company alleged a culture of sexual harrassment and dscrimination. In fact, according to Oneal, it's the opposite.

"I want you to hear from me personally that I have made the decision to step away from co-leading Blizzard Entertainment and will transition to a new position before departing ABK at the end of the year. Effective immediately, Mike Ybarra will lead Blizzard. I am doing this not because I am without hope for Blizzard, quite the opposite--I’m inspired by the passion of everyone here, working towards meaningful, lasting change with their whole hearts. 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. "

Oneal states that as she transitions from co-leading to leaving Activision Blizzard at the end of the year, the team at ABK has been "graciously offering their support" for the decision, donating $1 million USD to the Women in Games International non-profit group, where Oneal serves as a board member. 

Oneal states that as she finishes out her time at Activision Blizzard, she will be working with ABK leadership and the WIGI on how the grant itself will be used.

Oneal also states that she believes in Ybarra and the rest of the Blizzard team, stating that the company's "best days are ahead."

"I wanted to tell the Blizzard community this personally because I want you to know I believe so strongly in Mike and the rest of Blizzard’s leadership both in terms of Blizzard’s culture and Blizzard’s games. Blizzard’s best days are ahead. I truly believe that. I also am hoping this letter helps you to think about what you can do to make everyone around you--no matter their gender, race, or identity--feel welcome, comfortable, and free to be themselves. "


Joseph Bradford

Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he's not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don't get him started on why Balrogs *don't* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore