Activision Loses Blizzard Co-Leader; Delays Launch of Overwatch, Diablo

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Activision Blizzard’s co-leader Jane O’Neill on Tuesday decided to step down from her role, giving full control to Mike Ybarra, and the video game publisher postponed the release of two long-awaited games, sending its shares down 10 percent.

Ybarra said the delay in the rollout of Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV was due to a leadership change, but he didn’t offer a new timeline for their release, while the company expected disappointing revised sales in the holiday quarter.

Oneal and Ybarra took office three months ago after Allen Brack stepped down as president, a week after the company was sued for workplace harassment and pay discrimination.

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Then, last month the company fired more than 20 employees, with another 20 facing other forms of disciplinary action.

The owner of the Call of Duty and Candy Crush franchises has also set up a fund of $18 million (approximately Rs 135 crore) to compensate and adjust eligible claimants, while CEO Bobby Kotik has said it will take a big paycheck.

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In a letter to the company’s gaming community, Oneal said it will leave at the end of the year to focus more on diversity in the games industry, which “we hope will have a broader impact in the industry that will benefit Blizzard” and other studios.

With its exit, the company now has three female CEOs on its 13-member leadership team.

Meanwhile, with the easing of pandemic-related restrictions, Activision’s total monthly active users in the third quarter remained unchanged at 390 million from a year earlier, indicating signs of slowing demand for games.

The company, which faces competition from rivals Electronic Arts and Take-Two, said in-game net bookings were similar to the third quarter of 2020.

Its third-quarter adjusted sales were $1.88 billion (about Rs 14,020 crore), in line with Wall Street expectations.

The company said it expects adjusted sales for the fourth quarter to be $2.78 billion (about Rs 20,735 crore). Analysts had expected it to come in at $2.93 billion (approximately Rs.21,855 crore), according to Refinitiv data.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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