Blizzard’s new president is Joanna Farris, former director of the Call Of Duty franchise

Blizzard’s new president is Joanna Farris, former director of the Call Of Duty franchise

Blizzard Entertainment has chosen Johanna Faries as its new president following the departure of Mike Ybarra from the studio last week alongside the news that Microsoft will lay off 1,900 employees across its Xbox, Activision Blizzard and ZeniMax teams. Farris worked in the NFL for 12 years before working at Activision starting in 2018, according to Bloomberg. She started as head of Call of Duty esports before eventually serving as director of the Call of Duty franchise at the company, which Microsoft acquired last year for $69 billion.

Joanna Farris is the new head of Blizzard Entertainment for Microsoft Activision

In the introductory email Faries sent to Blizzard employees today, she addressed the layoffs that occurred at the company last week.

“Although my first official day with all of you is February 5, I want to let you know right away that I am honored to join you next week in this new capacity,” she wrote in an email. “I do so with humility and awe of everything Blizzard has stood for and given the world for over thirty years. Today also holds some mixed emotions. The loss of my talented teammates in recent days is hard to bear along with the tremendous excitement I feel about joining Blizzard — and build on the momentum you’ve created for Blizzard’s next chapter.”

Joanna Farris is the new head of Blizzard Entertainment for Microsoft Activision

MIT Sloan

Elsewhere in the email, Farris discusses her history working on Call of Duty and the differences between that franchise and franchises under the Blizzard umbrella. “Activision, Blizzard, and King are certainly different companies with distinct games, cultures, and communities,” she wrote. “It’s important to note that Call of Duty’s way of getting up in the morning to deliver services to players can often differ from the amazing games in the Blizzard universe: each has different gameplay experiences, the communities that surround them, and the success models required.” Farris says she has discussed these differences with the Blizzard leadership team and that she steps into this role “with sensitivity to those dynamics, and a deep respect for Blizzard.”

Faries will arrive at Blizzard’s Irvine, California, headquarters next week to meet informally (and optionally) with employees there. She’s a huge Diablo IV fan, she says in her email, and “the joy I find in games — and working with those who make them — runs deep throughout my life.”

“I continue to be inspired by Blizzard’s iconic legacy, and the transformative role games have played in my life and in the lives of others,” she wrote. “I can’t wait to get started – to listen, learn, empower and collaborate with all of you to realize our bold and bright future together. Together, may we create many more legendary days ahead.”

You can read Faries’ full email here.

Farris takes on the role of Blizzard’s president following last week’s news of the departure of Mike Ybarra, who has worked at the company since 2019. Before Blizzard, Ybarra worked at Microsoft for more than 19 years.


How do you feel about Blizzard’s future after last week’s layoffs and its new president? Let us know in the comments below!

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