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Activision Blizzard turmoil continues

“Pursuing Other Opportunities”

Early this week, J. Allen Brack, President of Blizzard, stepped down to “pursue other opportunities.” Being that he was one of the names actually mentioned in the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard by the State of California, and he was the head of Blizzard when the news was released, it’s safe to assume that he was told to leave, becoming the fall guy.

Brack has been replaced by both Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, both now holding the title of Co-Leader.

It’s important to note the weaker and weaker job titles as leadership moves on past Mike Morhaime. Morhaime held the title of CEO of Blizzard, Brack was President of Blizzard, and now O’Neal and Ybarra are Co-Leaders of Blizzard. This is a clear sign that leadership is taking more and more control of Blizzard activities. Take that as you will.

Head of Blizzard HR Leaves

Blizzard’s Senior Vice President of HR, Jesse Meschuk, is gone, too. There has been conflicting reports, with Bloomberg reporting that he left this week, and Axios reporting that he left HR in January.

Whenever he quit Blizzard, his tenue ended with him helming the department so poorly that the state is suing them. Details from Axios describe how HR would undermine and discount victims’ experiences, they would not protect the identities of people who would come to them for help, and it would shield abusers.

The report describes multiple incidents of HR’s failings, including one where an employee reported she was physically assaulted, and HR’s response was they were surprised she wasn’t crying and more hysterical, and there was no way they could protect her at work so she should work from home or switch departments.

People are unfortunately learning that HR is meant to protect the company over the employees, and even this was an egregious mistake in that regard by HR.

Second Lawsuit

A second lawsuit has been filed against Activision Blizzard, but don’t get too excited. Shareholders are suing Activision Blizzard, CEO Bobby Kotick, CFO Dennis Durkin, and former CFO Spencer Neumann (now with Netflix), for not telling shareholders about the investigation leading up to a lawsuit that has cost them money.

Repeat, the shareholders are not suing in solidarity of the harassment and discrimination people have faced at Activision Blizzard, but are suing because they didn’t weren’t told about the investigation and now it’s cost them money.

Still, having a second lawsuit against your company isn’t good optics, and that leads to…

Sponsors Pull Back from OWL

This week, both State Farm Insurance and Coca-Cola are “reassessing” their sponsorship of the Overwatch League. Neither has outright pulled out at this point, but State Farm has asked that none of their ads play this coming weekend, and Coke said they are “taking a step back.”

Last week, T-Mobile silently withdrew their sponsorship of the Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, and Plat Chat, the podcast hosted by talent of the Overwatch League. Plat Chat is purportedly in talks with T-Mobile since they are separate from OWL itself.

Update: After this post went up, Cheez-It Grooves and Pringles no longer appeared on the OWL Partners page. These aren’t the prettiest pictures, but they still tell the story.

August 3 Partners Page:

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August 6 Partners Page:

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Chief Compliance Officer Deletes Twitter After Being Even More Awful

Fran Townsend, the Chief Compliance Officer for Activision Blizzard, deleted her Twitter account this week after finding out that people don’t like it when corporate leaders endorse articles about how whistleblowing is problematic. Whistleblowing is when someone exposes information on a private, public, or government organization.

The former Homeland Security Advisor to President Bush started off blocking people, including employees, when they called her out on the article. He had enough of blocking and eventually just deleted her account.

Soon after the original harassment suit was filed, Townsend released a letter saying the lawsuit “presented a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories - some from more than a decade ago.” That went over well as you can imagine.

Townsend was a controversial hire when she joined Activision Blizzard six months ago. As PC Gamer puts it, Townsend was a key player of the War on Terror, especially around intelligence, even defending the torture techniques used in Abu Ghraib prison.

Hey, Reader. If you’re young enough to not know about the Abu Ghraib controversy, be very careful if you look it up, OK? It’s not for the faint of heart as it’s about some major human rights abuses done by the United States during the Iraq War. The irony is not lost on me that I’m saying this on a web site that keeps stats about how many kills you got in a video game that glorifies war and combat. Just please take care of yourself. Seriously.

Earnings Call & Overwatch 2

The Q2 investor call happened this week, with numerous platitudes of how harassment is not allowed at Activision Blizzard, despite its long history saying otherwise. Most of Blizzard’s properties were discussed, but pertaining to us, Blizzard MAU (monthly active users) are down 6 million from this time last year: 32 million down to 26 million. There was no talk of how much that figure comes from each game.

It was also mentioned that development on Overwatch 2 had passed an “important internal milestone” in recent weeks. There was absolutely no more data provided on what that means, but the team is said to be looking forward to revealing more in the coming months as they approach the late stages of production.

Oh yeah, a patch went live, too

Last week’s Experimental Patch went live this week. It’s also the last week of the Summer Games event which will end on Wednesday, August 11 at about 11 am Pacific.

Doomfist

  • Meteor Strike ultimate now speeds up the cooldown timer of his abilities by 100% while Doomfist is in the air.

Genji

  • Shuriken damage increased by 1, from 28 to 29.

  • Dragonblade ultimate damage reduced by 10 each swing, from 120 to 110.

Moira

  • The self-healing from Biotic Grasp restores more health per second (HPS), up from 20 to 24 HPS.

Roadhog

  • He grants 25% less ultimate charge when hit.

Soldier: 76

  • Primary fire damage increased by 1, from 19 to 20.
  • Healing from Biotic Field reduced from 40 to 35 HPS.

Wrecking Ball

  • Grappling Claw begins on cooldown when respawning.
  • Adaptive Shield casts instantly instead of taking 0.2 seconds to cast.
  • Mines from Minefield ultimate no longer stick to walls. As long as there is “ground” below them, be it actual ground or something like ledges and window sills, like in this example from Reddit, they will sit there, even if the ledges barely exist.

Official patch notes.