Blizzard Ushers in New Era With Appointment of Call of Duty Veteran Johanna Faries as President


Blizzard Entertainment has appointed Johanna Faries as its new president.

As the former general manager of Activision’s Call of Duty franchise, Faries brings a very different background to the role than her predecessor Mike Ybarra.

So who exactly is Johanna Faries and what does her appointment mean for Blizzard?

Who is Johanna Faries?

Faries is a veteran games industry executive who has played a pivotal role in the development and expansion of the massively successful Call of Duty franchise over the past few years.

She first joined Activision in 2018 to oversee Call of Duty esports before being promoted to general manager of the entire CoD series in 2021.

Under her watch, Call of Duty continued to cement itself as one of gaming’s most popular and profitable properties.

She has been named in both FORTUNE’s 40 Under 40 as one of the most influential young people in business and Adweek’s ’30 Most Powerful Women in Sports’.

Faries brings extensive experience managing live service games and building engaged player communities.

A New Leader During a Time of Transition

Faries steps into the presidency at a turbulent time for Blizzard.

The company just laid off numerous employees, and she acknowledges the “mixed emotions” this brings.

While expressing excitement about Blizzard’s potential, she also notes the “loss of talented teammates” and the need to rebuild trust.

“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.”

What Her Hiring Signals

The appointment of Faries marks a major change of the guard for Blizzard, which has been plagued by scandals and sagging player sentiment in recent years.

It appears Activision is hoping Faries can replicate her success in expanding the Call of Duty ecosystem within Blizzard’s iconic games.

Analysts see the move as Activision positioning Blizzard to focus on improving live service games like Overwatch 2 and World of Warcraft while better monetizing its player base.

Whether this will sit well with Blizzard’s traditionally core gaming audience remains to be seen.

Based on her background, we can likely expect Faries to bring a laser-focus on expanding Blizzard franchises into multimedia behemoths.

Expect a greater emphasis on esports integration, mobile gaming, and streaming content for popular series like Diablo while more aggressively monetizing players through in-game transactions.

In her statement acknowledging her appointment, Faries noted Blizzard and Activision operate very differently.

“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”.

She will need to balance Activision’s commercial priorities with retaining Blizzard’s unique culture and core gaming values.

Ultimately, Faries’ appointment kicks off a new era for the legendary studio.

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