J. Allen Brack steps down from Blizzard

J. Allen Brack was named in a recent sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard. His resignation does not address this.

The fallout from the recent sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard in California continues, with the first meaningful repercussion happening in response to the pervasive abuse, harassment and 'frat boy culture' present in the company - J. Allen Brack is out.

Until today, Brack was the President of Blizzard Entertainment since 2018, and has been with the company since 2006, with his main area of work being World of Warcraft, a title he was involved with in various leadership positions long before being named President of the company.

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Brack was one of the people in leadership positions explicitly named by the lawsuit as having sexually harassed and discriminated against Activision Blizzard employees. He is also one of the people on the panel from the BlizzCon 2010 video making the rounds recently, where developers react despicably to the notion of oversexualized female characters in their games.

J. Allen Brack will be replaced by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who will take over leadership of Blizzard Entertainment together. Both are experienced industry veterans who have spent time in leadership positions and have been overseeing major projects at Blizzard since joining the company.

This resignation is the first - and hopefully not last - actually tangible repercussion of the sexual harassment lawsuit.

The shockwaves sent by this controversy has led to development on World of Warcraft stalling, an Overwatch map reveal being delayed, the latest Hearthstone cards getting quiet reveals and an employee-organized walkout in protest. Additionally, certain in-game references to another person named in the lawsuit, Alex Afrasiabi, have been removed from World of Warcraft.

Activision-Blizzard employees organized a walkout in protest of the company's dismissive response to the lawsuit.

After the company shares dipped, Bobby Kotick also addressed the situation with a letter, following a notoriously incendiary internal email that was leaked wherein Fran Townsend dismissed all of the allegations. Since then, Townsend has shared Tweets about articles criticizing "whistleblowing", and blocking users on Twitter seeking to hold her accountable - including Activision Blizzard employees.

J. Allen Brack shared a brief message alongside the announcement of his resignation, which much like the entire press release, dodged the on-going row around the sexual harassment lawsuit entirely:

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. 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.

This is a good start to cleaning up an environment notorious for harassment and questionable behavior, but Activision Blizzard still have a long way to go to repair their reputation which was damaged by censorship and game related controversies already before this lawsuit struck.

Aron Gerencser
Gaming at least as long as he's been walking, Aron is a fan of all things sci-fi and lover of RPGs. Having written about games for years, he's right at home reporting most of the breaking news in the industry and covering the happenings of the e-sports world. Graduating summa cum laude from Università degli Studi Guglielmo Marconi with a BA in Media Production, Aron has been a game journalist since 2014. When not writing, editing or playing, Aron is building models which you can find on Instagram.
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