Call of Duty Veteran Johanna Faries Steps into President Role at Blizzard
Blizzard has found a new president in a familiar face – Johanna Faries, former general manager of Call of Duty under the Activision banner. She will replace outgoing president Mike Ybarra, who exited alongside approximately 1,900 others laid off across Microsoft’s gaming division last week.
As a division of Activision Blizzard and now Microsoft, Blizzard has largely maintained independence in its operations. So some employees may view an executive from Activision taking the reins with skepticism. Former CEO Bobby Kotick was known to impose Activision’s will onto Blizzard, allegedly resulting in game delays.
Likely anticipating doubts about her appointment, Faries directly addressed the cultural differences between the two brands in an introductory email to Blizzard staff. She emphasized sensitivity to preserving what makes Blizzard’s approach successful and committed to upholding the uniqueness of its games and fanbases.
Faries arrives with an actionable familiarity with Blizzard’s current slate, listing Diablo 4 among the games in her regular rotation alongside Call of Duty. Her background spans game development and others entertainment spheres like the NFL.
This diversified experience and intent to embrace Blizzard’s autonomy hopefully assuages any notions of a looming Activision takeover. While undoubtedly facing challenges, Faries expressed a collaborative vision moving forward, writing “I’m walking into this role with…deep respect for Blizzard, as we begin to explore taking our universes to even higher heights.”
Time will tell whether she can steer Blizzard to stability after recent turmoil. But Johanna Faries steps in facing both scrutiny and opportunity to help Blizzard redefine its future on its own terms.