Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 delayed as another studio head departs Blizzard

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The turmoil at Blizzard Entertainment continues. Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 have both been delayed, seemingly beyond the 2022 calendar year, as studio co-lead Jen Oneal has announced her departure, leaving Mike Ybarra as the sole head of the company.

The announcements came through an Activision Blizzard earnings call, with the blame for the delays being placed on the last few months of tumult as Blizzard has processed allegations of workplace misconduct with a number of senior staff leaving, some (though definitely not all) having been implicated in the scandal.

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One slide from the presentation reads, “As we have worked with new leadership in Blizzard and within the franchises themselves, particularly in certain key creative roles, it has become apparent that some of the Blizzard content planned for next year will benefit from more development time to reach its full potential.

“While we are still planning to deliver a substantial amount of content from Blizzard next year, we are now planning for a later launch for Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV than originally envisaged.”

Overwatch 2 Diablo 4 Delayed

With these two games delayed, Activision Blizzard notes that the expected uplift to profits for the next year will not be seen, implying that both Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 were expected to release in 2022 or the 2022-23 fiscal year.

Another shock to the system is the departure of Jen Oneal. She joined Blizzard in January as EVP of Development to oversee Diablo and Overwatch, but then stepped up as a co-lead alongside former Xbox exec Mike Ybarra as J. Allen Brack left under the cloud of the lawsuits and allegations.

In a statement published on Blizzard.com, Oneal explains that she has made the decision herself to step away from this somewhat unexpected role after three months, moving on to try and champion diversity across the games industry. Following on from positive steps Activision Blizzard has made to tackle the internal problems, the company has pledged $1 million to Women in Games International, where Oneal is a board member.

I am doing this not because I am without hope for Blizzard, quite the opposite–I’m inspired by the passion of everyone here, working towards meaningful, lasting change with their whole hearts. 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. While I am not totally sure what form that will take, I am excited to embark on a new journey to find out.

ABK’s leadership is graciously offering their support for my decision and has worked with me on a plan to invest in the future of other women in the gaming industry, by agreeing to make a US $1 million grant to Women in Games International–a fantastic non-profit organization, where I am a board member, that cultivates and advances equality and diversity in the global games industry. This money will be used to fund skill-building and mentorship programs.

In an effort to emphasise the changes that Activision Blizzard has already made, one part of the shareholder presentation focussed on this commitment. More than 20 individuals have left the company after investigations into allegations made, a new zero-tolerance harassment policy has been implemented, arbitration has been waived for sexual harassment and discrimination claims, and there’s further commitments to a diverse hiring policy and continued pay equity.

Overall, these are positive steps for the company to have taken, and while delays and more top-level executive departures aren’t ideal they make sense for the long term future of the company.

Source: Blizzard, Twitter, Activision

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