Blizzard Entertainment, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard Inc., has announced Johanna Faries as its new president, as per Bloomberg. This appointment comes in the wake of Microsoft Corp.’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard and follows the departure of Mike Ybarra amid a wave of company layoffs.
Faries, who previously held a pivotal role in managing the Call of Duty franchise at Activision, brings a wealth of experience to Blizzard. Her career in the gaming industry was preceded by an extensive tenure at the National Football League, spanning nearly 12 years. Her transition to the role of president at Blizzard marks a notable change in the company’s leadership dynamics, especially considering the past friction between Blizzard and Activision over game development strategies and timelines.
In her communication with Blizzard employees, Faries recognized the unique identities and operational nuances of Activision, Blizzard, and King. She emphasized her commitment to respecting these differences and exploring new heights for Blizzard’s gaming universes. Faries’ approach suggests a keen awareness of the distinct cultures and community expectations within each entity.
This leadership change is part of Xbox chief Phil Spencer and Matt Booty’s broader strategy to revitalize game franchises and enhance revenue streams at Activision. The integration of Activision’s financials into Microsoft’s reports is a strategic move, particularly in light of the gaming industry’s post-pandemic challenges.
Regulatory delays in finalizing the Activision acquisition have impacted Spencer’s ability to address internal issues at the studios and delayed Microsoft’s entry into the mobile gaming sector. The recent layoffs of nearly 1,900 video-game employees, predominantly from Activision, have further complicated the situation.
Matt Cox, currently serving as the Vice President of Product Management for Call of Duty, is set to take over Faries’ previous role. Faries is scheduled to commence her new position on Feb. 5 and plans to engage directly with the Blizzard team in California, including hosting a town hall meeting.