Microsoft didn't have to look too far to find the new president of Blizzard. Former Call of Duty general manager Johanna Faries is replacing Mike Ybarra, who stood down from the role amid last week's sweeping layoffs in Microsoft's gaming division. Blizzard was said to be particularly hard hit as Microsoft fired around 1,900 people.
Faries, a former National Football League executive, joined Activision as the head of Call of Duty esports in 2018. She started overseeing all things Call of Duty in 2021 and officially starts her new role on February 5.
Blizzard has largely operated independently since it merged with Activision in 2008. As such, Blizzard workers may be forgiven for being concerned at someone from the Activision side taking control. Former Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick often meddled in Blizzard's affairs, reportedly resulting in Overwatch 2 delays, among other things.
In an attempt to soothe any worries, Faries wrote in an email to staff that "Activision, Blizzard, and King are decidedly different companies with distinct games, cultures and communities. It is important to note that Call of Duty’s way of waking up in the morning to deliver for players can often differ from the stunning games in Blizzard’s realm: each with different gameplay experiences, communities that surround them, and requisite models of success. I’ve discussed this with the Blizzard leadership team and I’m walking into this role with sensitivity to those dynamics, and deep respect for Blizzard, as we begin to explore taking our universes to even higher heights."
Faries added that she is "committed to doing everything I can to help Blizzard thrive, with care and consideration for you and for our games, each unique and special in their own right.” Meanwhile, on X, Faries wrote that Blizzard's Diablo 4 was part of her current rotation of games, alongside Call of Duty and Baldur's Gate 3.