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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Blizzard

Blizzard president J. Allen Brack is out at Blizzard, two weeks after being named in an explosive lawsuit by the state of California involving misconduct at the company.

Why it matters: This is the most concrete reaction Activision Blizzard management has taken since the scandal broke and one taken in advance of executives taking live calls from analysts later today.

  • As one of the heads of Activision Blizzard's three gaming branches, Brack usually was a participant on those calls.

Brack will be replaced by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, according to a posting on Blizzard's website, which frames them as a solution to the studio's problems:

  • "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."

Between the lines: The California lawsuit alleged years of harassment and discrimination of Activision Blizzard employees, largely at the Blizzard division responsible for the development of "World of Warcraft" and "Diablo."

  • Brack, a 15-year Blizzard veteran, is one of two employees named in the suit and is singled out for taking "no effective remedial measure" against a creative director accused of abuse.
  • "An employee complained to Blizzard Entertainment President J. Allen Brack in early 2019 that employees were leaving due to sexual harassment and sexism," the suit also states.

The big picture: The day after news of the lawsuit broke, Brack sent a letter to employees calling allegations in it disturbing and calling on workers to report misconduct.

  • He did not mention he'd been accused in the suit of failing to effectively lead.
  • Around the same time a clip from a 2010 Blizzcon convention resurfaced, showing Brack and other senior developers laughing off a question from a woman critical of the skimpy outfits worn by some of their games' characters.
  • Activision Blizzard officials have oscillated between slamming the California lawsuit is "distorted and untrue" and acknowledging the company needs to do better by its employees.
  • Last week, workers staged a virtual and physical walkout at Blizzard in protest of the misconduct and the company's initially harsh reaction to it.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Video game developers struggle to fix "crunch culture"

Naughty Dog co-presidents Neil Druckmann (left) and Evan Wells. Photo: Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Game developers aired diverging views this weekend about whether encouraging developers to work "passionately" on a game is cover for inducing them to work too much.

Why it matters: Crunch has been accepted as a real, impactful issue within the game industry, but there still isn't a simple fix applicable to the entire sector.

Updated 50 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan police reform negotiations end without deal

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) with Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in the Capitol in May 2021. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Bipartisan talks on reforming police tactics and accountability, prompted by George Floyd's murder in May 2020, have ended without a compromise, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a key negotiator, said Wednesday.

Why it matters: Lawmakers, led by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Booker, had been working toward a bipartisan deal for months but things fell apart due to disagreements on qualified immunity and other issues.

Federal Reserve scales back expectations for economic recovery as Delta variant weighs

Fed chair Jerome Powell during a congressional hearing last year. (Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Fed downgraded near-term expectations for the economy and the labor market, alongside hotter-than-expected inflation, in new estimates out on Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's the first time those closely-watched estimates reflect impact from the delta variant that's already rattled the labor market. Still, Fed chairman Jerome Powell said enough progress has been made to begin to pull back emergency-era measures that have supported the economy.

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