Blizzard Entertainment CEO J. Allen Brack, developer of Call of Duty, steps down after speaking out against sexism

Activision Blizzard announced a management reshuffle Tuesday following employee protests and a California lawsuit alleging game maker Call of Duty created toxic workplace conditions and discriminated against women.

Blizzard Entertainment head J. Allen Brack is leaving “to look for new opportunities,” the company said in a statement, and will be replaced by veterans Jen Oneal and Mike Ibarra.

“With years of industry experience and a deep commitment to honesty and openness, I am confident that Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion and a commitment to excellence,” said COO Daniel Alegre.

The shake-up came a week after workers came out to protest sexism and harassment when a call was made to boycott Activision’s games online.

The company began what it promised to be a far-reaching review of its workplace practices following a state lawsuit alleging widespread discrimination and harassment against female employees.

The lawsuit details inappropriate behavior, describing male employees who allegedly groped for female colleagues and who “spoke openly about women’s bodies and joked about rape.”

Some employees and activists called the company’s response to the case inadequate, leading to protests on July 28.

The statement, which organizers said was signed by 2,600 employees, called for an end to compulsory arbitration in harassment cases, improved recruitment practices and the creation of a diversity and justice task force.

Game culture?
The protests come amid growing complaints about the treatment of women in the industry in recent years.

Activision has pledged to redefine both the workplace environment and the portrayal of women in its popular games.

On Tuesday, the shake-up affected Blizzard, one of three operating divisions of the California-based firm.

Onil and Ibarra will co-chair Blizzard and “share development and operational responsibility for the company,” the statement said.

“Both are leaders with outstanding character and integrity and are deeply committed to making our workplace the most inspiring and welcoming environment for creative excellence and adhering to our highest standards of game development.”

The company reiterated its pledge to improve conditions in its quarterly income statement.

“We continue to focus on the well-being of our employees and strive to do everything we can to ensure that our company has a welcoming, supportive and safe environment in which all of our team members can thrive,” said CEO Bobby Kotik.

Activision noted that it has retained an external law firm and will add staff as part of a “quick action to ensure a safe and welcoming work environment for all employees.”

The update notes that second-quarter earnings rose 51 percent from a year ago to $ 876 million (approximately Rs 6,490), while revenues rose 19 percent to $ 2.3 billion (approximately Rs 17,050). …

The company said it is attracting more users to its popular franchises like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush.

Last week, Kitty said the Santa Monica-based company “will continue to investigate all claims of ‘sexism at Activision’ without exception and will not hesitate to take drastic action.”

According to Kotik, content from Activision games criticized as sexist will also be removed following complaints from both staff and players, while “listening sessions” will be organized so that employees can “speak up and share that needs to be improved. “

Similar charges have been leveled against the French video game giant Ubisoft, as well as the American company Riot Games, the creator of League of Legends.

Ubisoft last year pledged a “structural shift” to eliminate toxic behavior following allegations of sexual harassment and harassment by managers of the game’s publisher, which has a portfolio of Assassin’s Creed.

Riot Games said earlier this year that an independent review found no evidence to support allegations of sexual harassment by chief executive Nicolo Laurent.

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