Ybarra's resignation came immediately following a mass wave of layoffs across Microsoft's gaming branches, which included Activision Blizzard. With over 1,900 positions cut, including some of Blizzard's customer service team, the layoffs were part of a rough month for game developers. At the same time, Blizzard also saw one of the company's co-founders, Allen Adham, announce his departure. Adham founded Blizzard, previously known as Silicon & Synapse, alongside Frank Pearce and Mike Morhaime in February 1991. Since then, Blizzard has seen a few leadership changes under both Activision and Microsoft.
On January 29, Microsoft appointed Johanna Faries to take the position of Blizzard's new president. As the former general manager of the Call of Duty franchise, Faries is the first woman to hold the position as the head of Blizzard Entertainment. Before her time at Activision Blizzard, Faries spent 12 years in the front office of the National Football League (NFL) across multiple marketing and business departments. According to an email sent to all Blizzard staff, Faries begins her duties on February 5. While Faries acknowledges the January layoffs at Microsoft in her letter, she said that Activision, Blizzard, and King are different companies with various ideas and expectations. Faries added that she will continue working with Blizzard's leadership team in the meantime.
Who Is Johanna Faries?
Succeeds Mike Ybarra as President of Blizzard Entertainment (Starting February 5)
First Woman To Lead Blizzard Entertainment, and First New President Since Microsoft Acquisition
Former Esports Lead and General Manager for Call of Duty (2018 to 2024)
Former NFL Executive and Vice President of Club Business Development (2007 to 2018)
In addition to her past work with the Call of Duty franchise and her esports background, Faries said that she plays games such as Diablo 4 and Baldur's Gate 3 in her downtime. As part of Microsoft's restructuring of all its gaming studios and acquisitions, Faries will work alongside other executives, including Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer and Xbox Game Studios lead Matt Booty. Faries takes over amid a busy 2024 at Blizzard, with updates to World of Warcraft and Diablo 4 already on the table. Whether Faries will lend her expertise in esports to the newly-formed Overwatch Championship Series remains to be seen.
Hi all. Today I sent the below note to @Blizzard_Ent. As for X: I play to stay in "listen mode" here, but trust I'm tuned in! As for me: a typical day=work life+yogi life+games life. Currently on heavy rotation: D4, COD, BG3. Feeling blessed & grateful🙏🏽Onward. ✨ pic.twitter.com/Ph8XgsTcpk— Johanna Faries (@Joh_Burg) January 29, 2024
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