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Former MLB executive joins Activision Blizzard to lead Sports & Entertainment

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Activision Blizzard announced this week that former MLB executive will be joining the company starting August 17 in a newly formed position of President of Sports & Entertainment.

Petitti was the Deputy Commissioner and COO of MLB for years.

“Tony is one of the most highly regarded executives in sports and entertainment,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “His success in media and as Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball is the perfect blend of skills to help us realize our aspirations for esports and our related businesses. He is admired by owners, media executives, players and fans.”

“Bobby Kotick has been translating his vision into opportunity at Activision Blizzard for 30 years. I couldn’t be more excited to use my own 30 years of sports and entertainment experience to help Activision Blizzard realize its ambitions,” said Petitti. “It’s clear to me the company has an incredible opportunity to connect players and fans in new and innovative ways, and I’m excited to be joining the company at such an important moment in its history. The last 12 years in baseball have been extraordinary for me and I am especially grateful for the leadership and mentorship that Commissioner Manfred provided to me and the League.”

Tony Petitti will join on to be in charge of the company’s esports businesses, which include Overwatch League and Call of Duty League, consumer products division, and films & television division.

Petitti will report directly to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

Activision

Blizzard Entertainment President steps down; new co-leadership announced

Blizzard Entertainment has announced that J. Allen Brack has stepped down as President of the company, with co-leaders assuming the role.

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In response to the ongoing Blizzard Entertainment lawsuit, J. Allen Brack has stepped down as President of the company, and “Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will co-lead Blizzard moving forward.”

Activision Blizzard is being sued by the State of California, with the lawsuit against the publisher alleging that Activision Blizzard has failed to address “frat” culture and “sexual harassment”, amongst other things, within the company.

This led to employee walkouts and calls for players to boycott their services as a result. Now, a significant reshuffle in the company’s hierarchy has been announced, with an official statement announcing that J. Allen Brack has stepped down as Blizzard Entertainment’s President.

His role will now be fulfilled by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, as they have succeeded him and will oversee the co-leadership of Blizzard Entertainment.

world of warcraft statue outside blizzard hq

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick had to issue an email to the company’s employees citing their initial response to the lawsuit as “tone-deaf.”

Blizzard has now released a full statement regarding the company’s Presidency, and steps moving forward.

“To all members of the Blizzard Community, 

We want to let you know about an important leadership change at Blizzard Entertainment. 

Starting today, J. Allen Brack will be stepping down as the leader of the studio, and Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will co-lead Blizzard moving forward. 

Jen joined Blizzard in January as executive vice president of development, where she’s been providing senior development leadership and support to the Diablo and Overwatch franchises. Jen is the former head of Vicarious Visions (which is now part of Blizzard Entertainment).

After many years at XBOX, Mike joined the company in 2019 as the executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology, where he’s been overseeing the evolution of Battle.net and our development services organization.

Jen and Mike have more than three decades of gaming industry experience between them. Moving forward, they will share responsibilities over game development and company operations. 

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. You’ll hear more from Jen and Mike soon. 

The following is a message from J. Allen Brack:

“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.”

Finally, thank you all for being a part of the Blizzard community, and for your passion and determination for safety and equality for all.”

inside blizzard hq

Additionally, Activision Blizzard’s President and COO has also made a statement regarding the recent position changes.

“I am pleased to announce that, effective immediately, Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra have been appointed co-leaders of Blizzard. Jen and Mike will share responsibility for development and operational accountability for the company. Both are leaders of great character and integrity and are deeply committed to ensuring our workplace is the most inspired, welcoming environment for creative excellence and to upholding our highest game development standards.

Many of us already know Mike and Jen and have experienced their leadership, their empathy and their unwavering sense of accountability:

  • Jen is an 18-year company veteran and the former head of Vicarious Visions studio. As Executive Vice President of Development at Blizzard, she has been providing senior development leadership and support to the Diablo and Overwatch franchises.
  • Mike has been in the technology and gaming industries for over 20 years, including 7 years as a senior executive at Microsoft’s XBOX division. Most recently Mike was Executive Vice President & General Manager of Platform and Technology at Blizzard overseeing Battle.net and our Development Services organizations.

With their many years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusivity, I am certain Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion and a dedication to excellence.

With Jen and Mike assuming their new roles, J. Allen Brack is leaving the company to pursue new opportunities.

Daniel”

We’ll continue to bring you any fresh developments on the situation.

Image Credit: Activision Blizzard

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T-Mobile reportedly no longer a sponsor of Call of Duty League & Overwatch League

T-Mobile appears to have ended their sponsorship of both the CDL and OWL after Activision Blizzard harassment lawsuits surfaced.

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T-Mobile appears to have abruptly ended their sponsorship of the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League this past week. The company’s logo has been removed from the sponsorship section of both of the websites.

T-Mobile was one of the largest non-endemic partners of the Call of Duty League. The US wireless carrier was the Official 5G Sponsor of the League and featured weekly 5G T-Mobile Drops for fans to enter to win real life prizes.

The Call of Duty League features sponsors including the U.S. Army, Astro Gaming, SCUF Gaming, Zenni Gaming, Game Fuel, USAA Insurance, and Google Cloud.

T-Mobile’s logo was seen on the Call of Duty League site as recently as July 21 alongside the other sponsors, per the Wayback Machine, as seen in the screenshot below:

Call of Duty League website – July 21, 2021

Now, visiting the Call of Duty League website and looking at the same sponsor area, T-Mobile’s logo has been removed. The other sponsor’s logos are still featured.

Call of Duty League website – July 31, 2021

Another part of T-Mobile’s activation with the Call of Duty League was their 5G Weekly Drop activation, where viewers could text a code to a number to enter for a chance to win bonus items – like free controllers, phones, headsets, and even a trip to CDL Champs.

However, for the Stage 5 Major event (taking place July 29 through August 1), the official rules website says the Weekly Drop was cancelled with no explanation provided.

T-Mobile was also a sponsor of Activision Blizzard’s other major league, the Overwatch League. But on the OWL’s website sponsor section strip, T-Mobile’s logo is gone. It was there as soon as Monday, July 26. T-Mobile’s branding still appears on their site for Viewership Drops as those assets appears to have not been updated yet.

It’s not officially confirmed as to why T-Mobile has decided to end its sponsorship of both of the leagues so suddenly or if the sponsorship is truly over, but the timing seems suspicious with the recent harassment lawsuit against Activision Blizzard from the state of California.

Activision Blizzard employees staged a walk out on July 28 in protest of the company’s responses to the harassment lawsuit over a toxic, sexist workplace culture.

Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick responded in an email published on July 27 that the company’s responses were “tone deaf” and they would work to build a better, safer culture.

Activision Blizzard and T-Mobile both have not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

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Warzone players call for boycott over Blizzard lawsuit and hacking problems

Due to the Blizzard lawsuit and endless hacking, Warzone, and other Call of Duty players, are calling for a boycott of Store purchases.

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Warzone players are encouraging all Call of Duty gamers to boycott the purchase of skins and bundles from the store in response to the recent Activision Blizzard lawsuit and constant Warzone hacking.

It’s been an unsettling time for Call of Duty and its respective titles – Warzone, Black Ops Cold War, CoD: Mobile, and Modern Warfare. The ongoing Activision Blizzard lawsuit has impacted the franchise, and fans are calling for fellow players to stop buying goods from the CoD store in protest.

This includes everything from skins to Operator Bundles to even the Seasonal Battle Pass. Warzone players are citing the lawsuit, “empty updates,” and hackers as the driving force behind this movement.

activision blizzard headquarters

The lawsuit is dealing directly with an “alleged toxic workplace,” and has even lead to a full walkout by employees in response to the unfortunate situation.

Added to this is the purported series of empty updates “full of microtransactions in order to milk the players,” and the ever-increasing threat of hackers, and players have seemingly had enough.

Reddit user Jaszs has lead the charge by saying: “I’m writing this as someone who has played every. single. COD since COD2, and WZ since day 1 until yesterday, and also a former Blizzard fan. Yes, I know it may sound bad, but based on what’s going on (sexual harassment lawsuit, suppressing and abusive treatment of their employees…) I really think those guys don’t deserve anything from us, their customers.

“You can even keep playing the game if you want (there are some cool alternatives though; if you need some just ask in the comments!), just don’t spend any money in their store. In any case, you should also remember that they are the same guys that are releasing empty updates full of microtransactions in order to milk the players, releasing over and over the same game and not giving a single f*ck about the increasing number of hackers.”

The very passionate statement received over 300 comments and counting, and it’s universally in favor of boycotting Activision’s Store ahead of the Warzone Season 5 launch.

Given that there are many responses, here are a selection of replies:

  • “I’ve got 900 COD points and level 90 on the battle pass. Not spending a penny more on this game. They don’t respect their employees, they don’t respect the players (anti-cheat lmao) they aren’t getting anymore of my money.”
  • “Once all this sh*t came to light, my entire friend group collectively uninstalled the game and swore off of it for good. We were already mad at the game for being poorly managed with hackers and constant glitches/crashes. I suppose this was the lead straw that broke the metaphorical camel’s back.”
  • “Based on the way they’ve handled cheating, the CW integration, and the general state of the game in the last year, I’m shocked than any of you have been buying cosmetic items from them. Do you realize what kind of message you’re sending by making the worst CoD their highest-earning one?”

At the time of writing, the post has nearly 1.8K upvotes and rising. Given the player count of Warzone far exceeds this, it’s hard to imagine this boycott would do too much damage.

Conversely, Producer at Sledgehammer Games Alayna Cole has Tweeted an important message concerning the circumstances.

Boycotting the Activision store will have an obvious knock-on effect in terms of sales revenue, and would ultimately disrupt the salaries and jobs of many employees who are not involved in this lawsuit.

It’s a hard position for all involved and for players who engage in Call of Duty games. The lawsuit is still long ongoing, and we’ll continue to update you at Charlie INTEL with any breaking developments.

Image Credit: Activision Blizzard

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