On the stage of BlizzCon 2023’s opening ceremony, Blizzard President Mike Ybarra had the chance to welcome his former boss Phil Spencer, who made a surprise appearance.
Ybarra worked at Microsoft for nearly 20 years, starting as a systems engineer before moving to Senior Director of the OEM Division, then General Manager of Windows 7, before moving to General Manager of Xbox Live, Studio Manager of Xbox Studios, and finally Corporate VP of Xbox Live, Xbox Game Pass, and Mixer. Just a few days after he departed from Microsoft, Ybarra joined Blizzard as Executive VP and General Manager of Platform and Technology.
Less than two years later, he was promoted alongside Jen Oneal to co-presidency of Blizzard when J. Allen Brack stepped down amidst the sexual harassment lawsuits that hit the company in 2021. Jen Oneal left the company just three months later, leaving him alone at the helm.
Now, following Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, Ybarra is more excited than ever to be working once again with Phil Spencer. Speaking to Bloomberg, the executive said many decisions had to be vetted by Activision executives prior to being implemented, while he reckons things will go much faster now.
Going to Phil and saying, ‘Hey, can we do this?’ I think he would look at me and go, ‘Run your studio’. I do think our decision-making will be faster. Those kind of changes, I think, are going to increase transparency in an awesome way.
Indeed, Ybarra added that Spencer wishes to make Blizzard more independent than it was under Activision, and he’s a fan of the idea.
I absolutely love that. It motivates the teams.
While on the BlizzCon 2023 stage, Phil Spencer mentioned StarCraft as one of the company’s major franchises. It has been a long time since Blizzard did anything with the IP. When asked about it, Ybarra said the input for a new game would have to come from the creative teams.
It’s not me saying, ‘Go make a StarCraft game’. I need to have someone who has the vision and passion that comes with the idea, and I’ll bet on that team.
Check out our BlizzCon 2023 coverage below: