Johanna Faries is the new Blizzard president following layoffs

30 Jan 2024

Image: © Tada Images/

Faries takes over from Mike Ybarra, who announced he was stepping down on the same day Microsoft’s layoffs were reported last week.

Less than a week after the news broke that Microsoft would lay off 1,900 employees at Activision Blizzard, Xbox and ZeniMax, Blizzard Entertainment has named its new president.

Johanna Faries officially starts her new role next Monday (5 February), replacing Mike Ybarra who announced he was leaving in a post on X last week on the same day the layoffs were reported.

In an email to the company, which was posted on Blizzard’s website, Faries said the announcement comes with “mixed emotions” following the news of mass layoffs at the company.

“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,” she wrote.

“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.”

Having worked at the company for more than five years, Faries takes up the top job following a stint as general manager for Call of Duty.

Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios, said Faries had impressed him with her “thoughtful, considerate and focused approach to leadership” in recent months since he has gotten to know her.

“I am excited to partner with Johanna and all of you to expand these treasured worlds, find new ways for people to experience them, and accelerate the impressive progress already being made.”

In an internal memo last week, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said “the leadership of Microsoft Gaming and Activision Blizzard is committed to aligning on a strategy and an execution plan with a sustainable cost structure.”

The layoffs followed a long battle for Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard in what became the biggest gaming deal in history.

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic