Overwatch 2 chief leaves Activision Blizzard

Overwatch
Blizzard Entertainment

Chacko Sonny, the executive producer for Overwatch and development head for Overwatch 2, is leaving developer Blizzard Entertainment. According to Bloomberg, Sonny plans to leave at the end of the week, the latest departure in a larger exodus from the publisher following state and federal investigations into alleged sexual harassment and discrimination at the company.

A statement given by a Blizzard representative to Polygon regarding Sonny’s departure doesn’t mention the company’s ongoing legal battle or internal reckoning.

“Chacko Sonny is leaving Blizzard to take some time off after 5 years of service,” the statement reads. “The deep, talented Overwatch team is making excellent progress on Overwatch 2, and thanks to their hard work, the game is in the final stages of production. We’ll be sharing more at the Overwatch League Grand Finals later this month.”

The Overwatch League Grand Finals are scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

Comments

It’s like watching a car crash in slow mo

It really is.

It’s literally an exodus of executives. Imagine what we don’t know that they do.

Here’s a list of everyone I know about that has left the company:

Blizzard president J. Allen Brack
Head of HR Jesse Meschuk
Chief Legal Officer Claire Hart
Diablo IV Director Jesse McCree
Head of Development for Overwatch 2 Chacko Sonny
Diablo IV Director Luis Barriga
Jonathan LeCraft

Also Jeff Kaplan, former lead on Overwatch, left not too long before all the news broke.

It makes me curious if Jeff knew what was coming, honestly. The Overwatch team was fairly distanced from the allegations, I haven’t really seen any specific stories from there. And when he left, he did say to the community to be kind to the team – that they would need it. Makes me curious, maybe he realised the extent of the problem and bailed.

Every upper-level management member at Blizzard over the past two years would have known this was coming. The State of California had been investigating for those two years, which would have included interviewing members of Blizzard management regarding these issues, and well as certain evidence requests (even Activision-Blizzard’s initial response, tone-deaf as it was, stated they had been cooperating with the investigation to that point). So even if all members of upper-level management weren’t interviewed for the investigation, they would have known of colleagues who were, or kept abreast of the fact this investigation was occurring by HR/Legal.

And before him, Michael Chu as well.

I don’t know much about Kaplan – why are we giving him the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t a part of the allegations? Seems suspicious that he’d leave right at the time all of these allegations come out.

People always seem to forget that Kaplan made a name for himself (and got a job at Blizzard) because he was a high end raid leader for an Everquest guild famous for his aggressive trolling, personal attacks on the game’s developers, and hostility towards his fellow guild members. Given that he was also a fairly highly placed developer with Blizz for almost two decades, it’s also pretty much impossible that he wasn’t at least aware of the activities alleged by the California lawsuit.

I don’t want to cast aspersions without knowing the full details, but it wouldn’t shock me if he was involved.

Even if he wasn’t actively fostering their horrible environment, he’s exactly the kind of person who benefited from it in getting the job there. Hopefully he’d grown up and matured, but I don’t know much else about him.

Same goes with Ion, he was the guild leader for Elitist Jerks before getting hired into Blizzard.

How the mighty have fallen. I’m so glad that Bobby Kotick is being called to answer for all this by the Feds. The man should be fired or removed. This company has become a joke, which is sad, as Blizzard for decades was the gold standard for games development, …. had we only known.

The gold standard….really?

The level of incredulity I’m detecting in your post makes me go "… really?"

I mean we can quibble about details and whatnot, but between at least 1994-2002 or so, Blizzard was crankin’ out hits. And that era doesn’t include Starcraft 2 or WoW or WC3, and there are pretty strong arguments I’d think to actually extend the range to include them.

The commenter said for games development, not selling units.

Even Blizzard’s own co-founder said they were created in crunch culture.

Blizzard was built on crunch, co-founder says, but it’s ‘not sustainable

I personally do not subscribe to crunch being the gold standard companies should strive for in development, hits or not.

Oh yeah, that’s absolutely a fair point. I think we’re on the same page here and are just getting caught on semantics. They suck, and it seems that unfortunately they’ve pretty much always sucked — the state the company is in now is a direct result of a shitty foundation, basically.

Overwatch 2 was already a dubious thing, that by description seemed more like a DLC that introduced single player than a sequel. They want to keep the original relevant so crossplay between the two is enabled, but that makes the value of buying a (full priced?) sequel very iffy.

Now they’ve had not one but two people (Kaplan) leave the project leaderless during its development. I would definitely not prepurchase this one…

Sonny wasn’t the leader of the OW team, Aaron Keller is. He’s an executive producer, which is important, but calling the team leaderless is a stretch.

Wait a couple weeks and he’ll be gone too.

Maybe, but let’s not start writing wishful fanfiction.

Keller is the last minute replacement for Kaplan. Losing Sonny is a lesser loss but still major. Now they’ll have to find another last minute replacement during a crucial development time.

Rats, sinking ship, etc.

Here’s to hoping he – and any other abusers or enablers – doesn’t find a safe harbor at another company.

I’m always dubious when people resign or get fired before consequences land. I fully expect them to to land in some bullshit consultancy, behind the scenes role or just use their likely ridiculous payouts to sit pretty.

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