Blizzard Entertainment has selected Johanna Faries as its new president following Mike Ybarra’s departure from the studio last week alongside news that Microsoft was laying off 1,900 employees across its Xbox, Activision Blizzard, and ZeniMax teams. Faries worked for the National Football League for 12 years before working at Activision starting in 2018, as reported by Bloomberg. She started as the head of Call of Duty esports before eventually working as a Call of Duty franchise manager at the company Microsoft acquired last year for $69 billion.
In Faries’ introductory email to Blizzard employees today, she addressed the layoffs that occurred at the company last week.
“Though my first official day with you all is February 5, I want to let you know immediately that it is an honor to join you next week in this new capacity,” she writes in the email. “I do so humbly and in awe of all that Blizzard has stood for and delivered to the world for over thirty years. Today also brings some mixed emotions. The loss of talented teammates in recent days is hard to hold side-by-side with the immense excitement I feel about joining Blizzard – and building on the momentum you’ve created for Blizzard’s next chapter.”
Elsewhere in the email, Faries discusses her history working on Call of Duty and the differences between that franchise and the franchises under Blizzard’s umbrella. “Activision, Blizzard, and King are decidedly different companies with distinct games, cultures, and communities,” she writes. “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.” Faries says she’s discussed these differences with the Blizzard leadership team and is stepping into this role “with sensitivity to those dynamics, and deep respect for Blizzard.”
Faries will be arriving to Blizzard’s Irvine, California-based headquarters next week to informally (and optionally) meet with employees there. In her email, she says she’s a big Diablo IV fan and throughout life, “the joy I find in games – and working with those who make them – only deepens.”
“I remain inspired by Blizzard’s iconic legacy, and the transformative role gaming has played in my life and in the lives of others,” she writes. “I cannot wait to get going – to listen, to learn, to empower, and to collaborate with all of you on our bold and bright future together. Together, may we forge many legendary days ahead.”
You can read Faries’ full email here.
Faries steps into the role of Blizzard’s president following news last week that Mike Ybarra, who had worked at the company since 2019, was leaving. Before Blizzard, Ybarra worked at Microsoft for more than 19 years.
How do you feel about the future of Blizzard following last week’s layoffs and its new president? Let us know in the comments below!