Blizzard Entertainment announced that J. Allen Brack would be stepping down as president of the company in a statement on their website. He is to be replaced by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra who will “co-lead Blizzard moving forward.” This comes in light of the recent lawsuit from the State of California brought forth on July 20th which mentioned Mr. Brack as an executive who didn’t take “effective remedial measures” when issues involving discrimination of sexual harassment were brought to him.
“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,” said Mr. Brack as part of the statement released by the company. “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.”
Blizzard Entertainment also commented on the new leadership at the company stating, “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.”
Despite this comment, the recently formed ABK Workers Alliance has made it clear they will be continuing their current protest of conditions at the company. In a statement released on their Twitter account called ABetterABK, they stated “No one person is responsible for the culture of Blizzard; the problems at ABK go beyond Blizzard and require systemic change. We stand by our demands, and we remain committed to taking action until they are met.”
The four demands were reiterated in a letter that the ABK Workers Alliance released via IGN that discussed employee issues with how the current situation was being handled.
1. An end to forced arbitration in employment agreements.
2. The adoption of inclusive recruitment and hiring practices.
3. Increases in pay transparency through compensation metrics.
4. An audit of ABK policies and practices to be performed by a neutral third party and that the third party be selected by an employee-led Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion task force.
This news of their demands still not being met and the resulting continued protest inspired #EndAbuseInGaming to trend on Twitter with thousands of game developers and fans of the series that Blizzard has produced coming out in support of the employees who made their favorite games. Many popular streamers have also joined in the boycott by refusing to play games from the company which has resulted in a drop below the thirty-day averages on Twitch.tv for many of their most popular titles.
With Activision-Blizzard initially not making a strong response towards the alligations initially and then hiring the controversial WilmerHale to review company policies, it is unlikely that employees will stop their strike soon, nor that fans dedicated to holding their favorite company to a higher standard will stop their boycott either.