Video game maker Activision Blizzard said Tuesday that the president of its Blizzard Entertainment studio was stepping down, a week after workers staged a walkout over allegations of harassment and discrimination.
Activision, known for Call of Duty and other popular gaming franchises, has been under intense pressure over the last couple of weeks following a lawsuit filed on July 20 in which California accused the company of fostering a “frat boy workplace culture” where men joked about rape and women were routinely harassed and paid less than their male colleagues.
The departing executive, J. Allen Brack, will be replaced by two Blizzard executives, Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who will be co-leaders of the studio, the company said in a statement.
“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,” Activision Blizzard said in a statement.
Oneal started at Blizzard in January as executive vice president of development, while Ybarra joined in 2019 as the executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology, Activision Blizzard said.
The video game industry has long been criticized for its toxic workplace environments. In 2014, feminist critics of the industry faced death threats in what became known as Gamergate. Executives at the gaming companies Riot Games and Ubisoft have also been accused of misconduct.
Activision apologized last week for its reaction to the outcry from its workers, calling its initial response “tone deaf.”
“It is imperative that we acknowledge all perspectives and experiences, and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement on July 27. “I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding.”