Blizzard appoints former Call of Duty general manager as new president

Statue of Illidan Stormrage, the Betrayer
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard Entertainment has named a new president to replace outgoing leader Mike Ybarra. Johanna Faries will begin her stint as president on February 5. 

This move has been confirmed both in a Tweet from Faries herself as well as an internal memo reportedly sent to Blizzard staff on Monday, January 29 (via VGC).

Faries' Tweet included a statement: "It is an honor to join you [...] in this new capacity [...] 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."   

This is a reference to the 1,900 staff from across Xbox, Activision Blizzard, and Zanimax that Microsoft is set to lay off. This move led to the axing of Blizzard's unnamed survival game project, too.   

The statement continued in a diplomatic tone: "The news of my appointment may no doubt bring up a range of reactions, questions, even concerns" Faries went on to say. "Activision, Blizzard, and King are decidedly different companies with distinct games, cultures, and communities."

Faries referred to her past experience as general manager for the Call of Duty franchise as well as her earlier stint as commissioner for Call of Duty esports. "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."

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The incoming president also spent 11 years at the NFL (National Football League) where she worked as the vice president of club business development.

In addition to her diplomatic language, Faries also painted a rosy picture of Blizzard's future in her Tweet: "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." 

In this climate of layoffs and abandoned projects, it's clear that the California-based studio could use a win. Whether or not Faries' appointment will mean a new era for Blizzard remains to be seen, but it seems likely that the Call of Duty veteran will have her work cut out for her.

Blizzard Entertainment has made some of the best MMORPGs and best co-op games ever made. 

Cat Bussell
Staff Writer

Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent. 


Before migrating to the green pastures of games journalism, Cat worked as a political advisor and academic. She has three degrees and has studied and worked at Cambridge University, University College London, and Queen Mary University of London. She's also been an art gallery curator, an ice cream maker, and a cocktail mixologist. This crash course in NPC lifestyles uniquely qualifies her to pick apart only the juiciest video games for your reading pleasure. 


Cat cut her teeth on MMOs in the heyday of World of Warcraft before giving in to her love of JRPGs and becoming embedded in Final Fantasy XIV. When she's not doing that, you might find her running a tabletop RPG or two, perhaps even voluntarily.