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Blizzard Is Already Losing Its First Female Studio Co-Head

Jen Oneal took over the top role in August alongside Mike Ybarra

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Jen Oneal, who recently stepped down from Blizzard, appears in front of the Blizzard logo against a black background.
Image: Activision Blizzard / Kotaku / Emmanuel Dunand (Getty Images)

Jen Oneal, who assumed joint duties of the top position at Blizzard in August, will step down from the company at the end of the year, she wrote in a statement today. In the meantime, she’ll transition to a new but unspecified role at Activision Blizzard. Her co-lead, Mike Ybarra, will take over the rest of her responsibilities effective immediately.

Staff, including those part of the ABK Alliance, learned about Oneal’s departure during an investor call this afternoon.


“This is a sad moment for many of us at ABK, who were excited to have a new experience with a Woman of Color heading our company,” the ABK Alliance wrote on Twitter. “We found out during our Shareholder meeting—and wish Jen well in her future endeavors.”

During that same shareholder meeting, Activision Blizzard announced the delays of Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV. In August, Diablo IV’s director and lead designer were let go from the company in the wake of widespread allegations of harassment and discrimination, plus damning evidence of a so-called “Cosby suite” at 2013's BlizzCon event.


“There’s obviously been a change in leadership,” Ybarra said on today’s call in response to the delays, but demurred on sharing specific release dates.

Amid a landmark lawsuit against the company over allegations of harassment, former Blizzard president J. Allan Brack stepped down from his role, a position he’d held since 2018. Oneal and Ybarra quickly took over his position.

“I want you to hear from me personally that I have made the decision to step away from co-leading Blizzard Entertainment and will transition to a new position before departing ABK at the end of the year,” Oneal wrote today. “I am doing this not because I am without hope for Blizzard, quite the opposite. ... 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.”

In the wake of Oneal’s departure, Activision Blizzard, which earned $8.1 billion in revenue last year, will donate $1 million to the nonprofit organization Women in Games International.


Additional reporting by Ian Walker.