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Johanna Faires Appointed Blizzard Entertainment President

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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:

Blizzard Logo(Source)

Dear Blizzard,

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.

Johanna

For more details, check out the full article on Bloomberg.

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Uncommon Patron

What is vital in such a decision, is what the main Blizzard technical/conception teams think of their "boss".
Bets are open, but I'm somehow pessimistic.

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2 hours ago, Cheatcho said:

Now was the time to appoint Metzen for CEO and let him fix everything with his Infinity Gauntlet... But NOOOOOOOO...

Metzen is a story writer and a concept artist. These skills don't mean that he can run a business, especially at such top position.

Although this new leader doesn't seem very promising, someone who managed Call of Duty and who wasn't directly involved in any of these games. Another Activision corposuit. 

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This is the description for a General Manager:
 

Quote

A general manager is an executive who has overall responsibility for managing both the revenue and cost elements of a company's income statement, known as profit & loss responsibility. A general manager usually oversees most or all of the firm's marketing and sales functions as well as the day-to-day operations of the busines


 

I do not feel like they should be the head of any gaming company, only financial part.
Then the fact that "Prayer, Yoga, parenthood;; DIABLO!" is in the same sentence, makes me chuckle in a disbeleif kind of tone.
I'm not saying those people don't exist, I just feel like they are a totally different ball-player than myself when THOSE are the things you mention as you begin as a GAMING companys face out.

I am all for parenthood (im a woman myself), I am all for yoga, heck I am even for praying if that makes you feel well!
But it just feels so... odd, to mention those? - idk, that's probably just me, that part.
However, I do feel like a financial-focused person should not be the president - for a Gamer enviroment to thrive. Wishfull thinking, I guess.

Edited by TheCake

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10 minutes ago, TheCake said:

I do not feel like they should be the head of any gaming company, only financial part.
Then the fact that "Prayer, Yoga, parenthood;; DIABLO!" is in the same sentence, makes me chuckle in a disbeleif kind of tone.
I'm not saying those people don't exist, I just feel like they are a totally different ball-player than myself when THOSE are the things you mention as you begin as a GAMING companys face out.

I am all for parenthood (im a woman myself), I am all for yoga, heck I am even for praying if that makes you feel well!
But it just feels so... odd, to mention those? - idk, that's probably just me, that part.
However, I do feel like a financial-focused person should not be the president - for a Gamer enviroment to thrive. Wishfull thinking, I guess.

Agreed, the only one of those things that has any real meaning in this is Diablo but that doesn't hold much weight. Most of the people who made Blizzard what it was were parents, some might've done yoga, and some probably prayed but none of those were what made them good at their job and the fact that people like this act like those factors somehow make her qualified for the job is a red flag in my book.

Edited by Q

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Uncommon Patron

One glance at the photo and everyone immediately knows why this person was selected.  Oh wait, no one's supposed to notice things like that.   My bad.

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11 hours ago, Arcling said:

Metzen is a story writer and a concept artist. These skills don't mean that he can run a business, especially at such top position.

Although this new leader doesn't seem very promising, someone who managed Call of Duty and who wasn't directly involved in any of these games. Another Activision corposuit. 

At this point they just need a known face that people like/love on that position and a capable Microsoft team managing everything from the shadows. There is a 99.99 % chance that almost everything will need to be Microsoft approved anyway.

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14 hours ago, TheCake said:

This is the description for a General Manager:
 


 

I do not feel like they should be the head of any gaming company, only financial part.
Then the fact that "Prayer, Yoga, parenthood;; DIABLO!" is in the same sentence, makes me chuckle in a disbeleif kind of tone.
I'm not saying those people don't exist, I just feel like they are a totally different ball-player than myself when THOSE are the things you mention as you begin as a GAMING companys face out.

I am all for parenthood (im a woman myself), I am all for yoga, heck I am even for praying if that makes you feel well!
But it just feels so... odd, to mention those? - idk, that's probably just me, that part.
However, I do feel like a financial-focused person should not be the president - for a Gamer enviroment to thrive. Wishfull thinking, I guess.

Do not forget primarily it's a business and the game itself is a product. You guys here have some hard misconception. 

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Anyone wanna take my bet that WoW introduces a "premium" cosmetic battle pass within the next 3 years? I may even go so far as to say it will come in the next expansion. They clearly have the infrastructure with the Renown system and trading post, with renown, just add in another track below it for "premium" rewards that are paid. It's all right there, then when people get mad, they just blame the new president who came from Activision.

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I'm actually ok with the (obvious) diversity hire for PR purposes, it's just a fact of life these days with big companies.

What I question is how much actual authority she has and what her scope of activities are?    Kotick had the final say on everything over past presidents (and obviously chose the stockholders uber alles approach).      Is someone at Microsoft taking his place in the authority pyramid, is she just a PR placeholder or will she actually make big company decisions?     We'll see.

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9 hours ago, Cheatcho said:

At this point they just need a known face that people like/love on that position and a capable Microsoft team managing everything from the shadows. There is a 99.99 % chance that almost everything will need to be Microsoft approved anyway.

I doubt everything has to bo through MS, they aren't paying these people to just serve as faces, but of course they have to adapt to certain directives. Since she was managing CoD series, I assume they are expecting she will run Blizzard in a similar way, so this is concerning if we are going to see even more aggressive monetization of everything.

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Uncommon Patron

I'm about as tired of "anti-woke" ranting about women in industry as I am of skunk stink on tires.

If she considers her job "get us some resources enough for people to do their jobs" and she lets Metzen do the job, then World of Warcraft will thrive, whatever the rest may have.

She has a passion for Diablo and success at Call of Duty?  OK, good, at least there's something there.  Will it be "The Blessed Mother loves all her hardcore children"?  We shall see.

 

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On 1/30/2024 at 1:10 PM, Hypersonic said:

Do not forget primarily it's a business and the game itself is a product. You guys here have some hard misconception. 

No? We just want Gamers to be the head, and financials to be their aid.
Its not necessary to make the leader a pro at min-maxing money when they can - and should - have a team for that.
The leader should see the best OVERALL for the GAMES, as GAMERS, not money purely.

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