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Former Call of Duty boss is now in charge of Blizzard, and she knows what she's walking into

The former head of Call of Duty has moved on to Blizzard, can she fix Blizzard’s haemorrhaging image?

In somewhat surprising news, Johanna Faries has been appointed as the head of Blizzard Entertainment. Faries is mostly known for her work at Activision, where she was most recently the chief of the Call of Duty franchise.

Faries initially joined Activision to lead Call of Duty's esports division, before transitioning to head Call of Duty. She is now the first Blizzard boss to be appointed following the completion of Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

The news was first reported by Bloomberg, who obtained a note the new boss sent to staff on Monday. Faries’ first day as the new boss will be February 5.

The executive, of course, arrives just days after Microsoftlaid off 1,900 employees from its video game division. The cuts affected several labels, including Activision Blizzard. They also lead to the cancellation of Blizzard’s long-in-development survival game, codename Odyssey, and the departure of Blizzard’s president Mike Ybarra, and chief design officer Allen Adham.

While the cuts are brutal, Microsoft was expected to perform some restructuring of its labels to reduce redundant roles, and overhaul management.

Faries’ appointment is especially important for what it represents. While Activision and Blizzard have always been separate entities under one banner, the latter’s independence has slowly eroded over the years, which is partly why the studio has been haemorrhaging talent as the quality of its games decline. It is, however, surprising that Microsoft chose an Activision executive outright for the role.

Faries, for her part, is aware of that longstanding struggle, and has said in the note that that each of Activision Blizzard King’s labels have their own unique culture, games, 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 wrote.

“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.”

As for Call of Duty, the franchise will now be headed up by Matt Cox, former vice president of product management

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