Skip to main content

Overwatch 2 executive producer leaving Blizzard amid lawsuit

As publishing giant Activision Blizzard faces legal woes on all fronts, the company is beginning to bleed leadership. Blizzard’s president, J. Allen Brack, stepped down from his post in August, and according to a report from Bloomberg, he’s being followed by the executive producer of one of the company’s biggest franchises.

The report claims that Chacko Sonny, the current executive producer of Overwatch, will be leaving the company this Friday, September 24. His departure was confirmed to Bloomberg by a spokesman for Activision Blizzard. Sonny’s role at the studio was nearly essential, tasking him with overseeing the entire Overwatch franchise as well as the development of Overwatch 2, a job that became much more important since Jeff Kaplan, former director of Overwatch, left Blizzard in April. Multiple anonymous sources told Bloomberg that Sonny was seen as a “stabilizing force on the Overwatch team.”

Sonny’s departure comes the same week that legal pressure against Activision Blizzard is ratcheted up by an investigation from the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This investigation, propped up by a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, specifically looks into Activision Blizzard’s handling of sexual misconduct and abuse allegations. To that end, the government oversight agency has filed subpoenas against multiple high-ranking Activision Blizzard executives, including CEO Bobby Kotick.

Activision Blizzard’s legal woes began in July with the lawsuit filed by the State of California, which alleged that the company had developed a “frat boy” culture in which sexual harassment, abuse, and pay discrimination were commonplace.

Editors' Recommendations

Otto Kratky
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Otto Kratky is a freelance writer with many homes. You can find his work at Digital Trends, GameSpot, and Gamepur. If he's…
Microsoft finally closes its $69B Activision Blizzard acquisition
Xbox acquired Activision Blizzard on January 18, 2022, and gained the rights to Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and more.

It's done: Microsoft completed its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The $69 billion deal means that some of gaming's biggest franchises, including Call of Duty, are now Xbox properties.

First announced in January 2022, the blockbuster deal has faced tons of scrutiny from regulators like the CMA and FTC, with there being worry that it'd be unfair to competition in various parts of the game industry. Ultimately, Microsoft proved that wasn't the case, defeating the FTC in court and finally getting the CMA to retract its objection to the deal earlier today. When the CMA did that, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told Digital Trends "The CMA’s official approval is great news for our future with Microsoft, and we look forward to becoming part of the Xbox Team.”

Read more
Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition is about to clear its final hurdle
microsoft activision blizzard acquisition uk preliminary approval mwiii reveal full 006

Microsoft has had a tough time getting its acquisition of Call of Duty-maker Activision Blizzard approved, but it just cleared a major hurdle. The U.K.'s CMA, which previously blocked the acquisition over concerns about its impact on the cloud gaming market, says that it has "provisionally concluded" that Microsoft has addressed its biggest issues with the acquisition.

Namely, it likes that Microsoft will give the cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard games to Ubisoft. "The prior sale of the cloud gaming rights will establish Ubisoft as a key supplier of content to cloud gaming services, replicating the role that Activision would have played in the market as an independent player," the CMA explained in a press release. "In contrast to the original deal, Microsoft will no longer control cloud gaming rights for Activision’s content, so would not be in a position to limit access to Activision’s key content to its own cloud gaming service or to withhold those games from rivals."
Its press release also reveals that Ubisoft will have the ability to make "Microsoft to port Activision games to operating systems other than Windows and support game emulators when requested." Essentially, it's pleased that Microsoft no longer has an iron grip on Activision Blizzard games outside of the Xbox ecosystem and is closer to supporting the deal because of it. Of course, both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard are pretty happy about this.
"We are encouraged by this positive development in the CMA’s review process," Microsoft president Brad Smith tweeted. "We presented solutions that we believe fully address the CMA’s remaining concerns related to cloud game streaming, and we will continue to work toward earning approval to close prior to the October 18 deadline."
Meanwhile, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson provided Digital Trends with the following statement: "The CMA’s preliminary approval is great news for our future with Microsoft. We’re pleased the CMA has responded positively to the solutions Microsoft has proposed, and we look forward to working with Microsoft toward completing the regulatory review process."
A final decision from the CMA is expected to be made by October 6. As Smith mentioned, Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition is expected to close by October 18.

Read more
Microsoft gives Activision Blizzard cloud gaming rights to Ubisoft
Microsoft's Xbox Cloud Gaming Service Enters Beta This Week

Microsoft announced its intention to grant Ubisoft, the publisher behind series like Assassin's Creed and Far Cry, the cloud streaming rights for Activision Blizzard titles if Microsoft's acquisition of the Call of Duty publisher goes through.
This deal was made in order to appease the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Microsoft has not had an easy time trying to acquire Activision Blizzard as it has run into heavy resistance from regulatory bodies like the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.K.'s CMA. The CMA's complaints centered around the potential monopoly Microsoft could have on cloud gaming if the deal were to go through. There was speculation that Microsoft would divest its U.K. cloud gaming efforts to appease the CMA, but it has now presented this new plan that would technically make it give up control of Activision Blizzard game-streaming rights worldwide for the next 15 years.
In a blog post, Microsoft President Brad Smith explainsed that if the Activision Blizzard acquisition happens, Microsoft will give "cloud streaming rights for all current and new Activision Blizzard PC and console games released over the next 15 years" in perpetuity following a one-off payment.
Essentially, Ubisoft will be the one deciding which cloud gaming platforms and services to put Activision Blizzard games on, not Microsoft. Smith claims that this means "Microsoft will not be in a position either to release Activision Blizzard games exclusively on its own cloud streaming service -- Xbox Cloud Gaming -- or to exclusively control the licensing terms of Activision Blizzard games for rival services," and that Ubisoft will allow them to honor existing agreements with companies like Nvidia. 

Ubisoft has been cloud gaming friendly over the past several years, eagerly putting its games on services like Google Stadia and Amazon Luna. With this deal, Ubisoft says it plans to bring Activision Blizzard games to its Ubisoft+ subscription service. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick also commented on the deal, saying that he approves of the deal, but that "nothing substantially changes with the addition of this divestiture" for Activision Blizzard and its investors.
The current deadline for Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition is October 18.

Read more