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With Johanna Faires recently taking on the role of the new President at Blizzard, let's delve into the history of Blizzard Presidents from 1991 up to the present.
Allen Adham served as President from 1991 to 1998. Mike Morhaime held the position of President and CEO from 1998 to 2018. J. Allen Brack assumed the role of President between 2018 and 2021. In 2021, Jen O'neal was named Co-Leader of Blizzard alongside Mike Ybarra. However, she chose to leave the company after just three months. Following her departure, Mike Ybarra took over as President until a few weeks ago when he also announced his departure from the company on January 25, 2024. Johanna Faires was appointed as Blizzard's President on January 29, 2024.
We've come across a Reddit post where someone alleges to have worked at Blizzard during Mike Morhaime's tenure as President, continuing through Ybarra's leadership. We can't vouch for the accuracy of their statement, but here's what they had to share with the community.
Blizzard Entertainment has named Johanna Faires as its new president, taking over from Mike Ybarra, who left the company last week.
Before this role, Faires served as the General Manager of the Call of Duty franchise at Activision. She previously spent 12 years working at the NFL.
“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.”
This leadership change follows the announcement by Phil Spencer, the Head of Xbox, and Matt Booty, the President of Game Studios, about massive layoffs across Activision Blizzard and Xbox.
Faires will start on February 5 and she will hold a town hall shortly afterward at the Blizzard campus in Irvine, California.
Johanna sent the following mail to Blizzard employees this morning:
Though my official first 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. 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.
I want to thank Matt for the introduction, bring some further clarity to today’s announcement, and share more about how I see our future together at Blizzard. I understand this is a lot to take in. The news of my appointment may no doubt bring up a range of reactions, questions, even concerns.
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.
I am 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. I’m optimistic about our ability to serve our current and future player communities, and to further amplify the shared passion for greatness, polish, and creative mastery that is a hallmark of Blizzard’s approach to game-making.
Next week, I will be in Irvine and I am eager to connect with as many of you as possible. I will be scheduling informal (and totally optional) meet-and-greets, where I want to hear more from people across the organization. Those of you who cannot make it to those gatherings or aren’t located in Irvine, please feel free to email me. We are also planning a town hall meeting to be held in the near future.
A few personal facts about me: my #1 job in life is raising two amazing boys. In addition to parenthood, a typical week for me includes finding time for daily yoga and prayer, and of course, playing video games (big Diablo IV fan over here!). Throughout, 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. 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.
For more details, check out the full article on Bloomberg.
In the wake of Microsoft's decision to lay off nearly 1,900 employees from its Activision Blizzard and Xbox divisions, there's growing speculation about a strategic shift in customer support for ABK games. Jez Corden, the Managing Editor at Windows Central, has shed light on this development through a series of tweets.
Corden's tweets reveal that Microsoft is considering a major restructure in its customer support approach. According to his sources, the tech giant is contemplating outsourcing the majority of its internal customer support roles for ABK games to third-party companies based overseas. This move, Corden notes, marks a significant change for ABK, which was previously known for its robust in-house customer support team.
Placeholder for tweet 1750587911249236224 Additionally, Corden pointed out that Microsoft has also begun dismantling several departments, notably those responsible for the distribution of Xbox games in physical retail stores. However, he emphasizes that this doesn't necessarily signal Microsoft's withdrawal from the physical gaming market.
Placeholder for tweet 1750590022842278391 Placeholder for tweet 1750596402093216146 The restructuring appears to have wider implications across the company, as Corden reports a substantial reduction in community manager roles. This development could potentially impact the level of community engagement and support for Xbox games.
Placeholder for tweet 1750594627088904334
We have some more news on today's unfortunate events at Blizzard, as Bloomberg's Jason Schreier explains the big reason the in-development survival game was cancelled. He spoke to people familiar with the project, and dives into what exactly happened below.
It seems the big reason for the cancellation was the engine. The game, codenamed Odyssey, was in development for six years and was originally prototyped in Unreal Engine. At a certain point it was decided that the game would switch to Synapse, Blizzard's internal engine that was originally made for use for their mobile games, but was intended as a general-purpose in-house engine for a lot of Blizzard games.
The engine didn't quite come along as quickly as was intended or needed for Odyssey, and so some developers were forced to still prototype assets in Unreal, despite knowing they could not be used in the new engine.
In the end, after Microsoft's acquisition, it was decided that Synapse was simply not ready for production, which meant Odyssey would also be cancelled. The official statement was that the cancellation happened as part of focusing on projects that had the most potential for future growth, and now we know why.
Here's what Blizzard spokesman Andrew Reynolds had to say about it all in the end:
"As difficult as making these decisions are, experimentation and risk taking are part of Blizzard’s history and the creative process,. Ideas make their way into other games or in some cases become games of their own. Starting something completely new is among the hardest things to do in gaming, and we’re immensely grateful to all of the talented people who supported the project."
There are more details relates to Odyssey and the Microsoft acquistiion, so head on over to Jason Schreier's article on Bloomberg for the full story.
Microsoft is laying off 1,900 employees at Activision Blizzard and Xbox. Blizzard President Mike Ybarra has decided to leave the company along with Blizzard's Chief Design Officer Allen Adham.
Today is definitely a sad day for many at Activision Blizzard and Xbox. Microsoft has made the decision to lay off 1,900 employees in its gaming departments. Here's what Phil Spencer had to say about the layoffs:
It’s been a little over three months since the Activision, Blizzard, and King teams joined Microsoft. As we move forward in 2024, the leadership of Microsoft Gaming and Activision Blizzard is committed to aligning on a strategy and an execution plan with a sustainable cost structure that will support the whole of our growing business. Together, we’ve set priorities, identified areas of overlap, and ensured that we’re all aligned on the best opportunities for growth.
As part of this process, we have made the painful decision to reduce the size of our gaming workforce by approximately 1900 roles out of the 22,000 people on our team. The Gaming Leadership Team and I are committed to navigating this process as thoughtfully as possible. The people who are directly impacted by these reductions have all played an important part in the success of Activision Blizzard, ZeniMax and the Xbox teams, and they should be proud of everything they’ve accomplished here. We are grateful for all of the creativity, passion and dedication they have brought to our games, our players and our colleagues. We will provide our full support to those who are impacted during the transition, including severance benefits informed by local employment laws. Those whose roles will be impacted will be notified, and we ask that you please treat your departing colleagues with the respect and compassion that is consistent with our values.
Looking ahead, we’ll continue to invest in areas that will grow our business and support our strategy of bringing more games to more players around the world. Although this is a difficult moment for our team, I’m as confident as ever in your ability to create and nurture the games, stories and worlds that bring players together.
Blizzard President Mike Ybarra announced earlier today he's leaving the company. Microsoft will name a new Blizzard president next week and Blizzard's survival game has also been cancelled.
Placeholder for tweet 1750527310493868293 Allen Adham, one of Blizzard's co-founders is also leaving the company, according to the internal memo of Matt Booty obtained by The Verge.
As you may have read in Phil’s note, today is a challenging day as we say goodbye to some of our colleagues. This is a difficult process, but it is one that will best enable Blizzard and Xbox to deliver ambitious games for our players on more platforms and in more places than ever before. We are moving forward with a more focused strategy across Microsoft Gaming that sets us up for sustainable growth and aligns our talent and resources to our top priorities.
In addition to the events today, Mike Ybarra and I have been discussing his future and some of his personal passions for some time. As many of you know, Mike previously spent more than 20 years at Microsoft. Now that he has seen the acquisition through as Blizzard’s president, he has decided to leave the company. As we move forward, we will continue to build on the positive momentum that Mike created and strive to continue exceeding the expectations of Blizzard’s players. I want to thank Mike for his leadership and for his partnership and counsel since the deal closed. I know he plans to travel and spend more time with his family. We wish him the very best.
Additionally, Allen Adham, Blizzard’s Chief Design Officer, is leaving the company. As one of Blizzard’s cofounders, Allen has had a broad impact on all of Blizzard’s games. His influence will be felt for years to come, both directly and indirectly as Allen plans to continue mentoring young designers across the industry.
The new Blizzard President will be announced next week.
According to Bloomberg's Jason Schreier, many employees still do not know if they are impacted by the layoffs.
Placeholder for tweet 1750543289227284649 Source: The Verge