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Activision Blizzard announced today that Jen Oneal is stepping down from her role as Blizzard co-leader, which she started in August along with Mike Ybarra.
Ybarra will then become the sole leader of Blizzard. He and Oneal stepped in after J. Allen Brack’s departure as Blizzard president, which happened after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Activision Blizzard for sex discrimination in the workplace.
Oneal was the head of Vicarious Visions, which Activision absorbed into Blizzard earlier this year. She has been at Activision for more than 20 years. Oneal is leaving Activision Blizzard to focus on bringing more diversity to the gaming industry. Activision is creating a $1 million grant to Women in Games International in her honor. Oneal is a board member of the organization.
“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,” Oneal notes in her goodbye letter. “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.”
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Before she leaves Activision Blizzard at the end of the year, Oneal will transfer her responsibilities to Ybarra and work in a new role determining the use of the grant.
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick commented on Oneal’s departure in an interview with GamesBeat’s Dean Takahashi: ““I had a lot of confidence, and still do, in Jen’s ability to lead. I think she really wants to go and transform the industry. Her mission in life is making great games and transforming the industry so that gaming, as more women enter the workforce, is more inviting and welcoming to women. It will be a great opportunity for us to partner with her as she leads the charge.”