Former corporate vice president of Microsoft’s gaming division, Mike Ybarra, has announced that he will be joining Blizzard Entertainment in early November as their vice president and general manager. According to his latest livestream (yes, he streams) he was “always jealous” of the people he played with that subsequently went to go work at Blizzard, and now he’s one of them.
Ybarra left Microsoft and Xbox earlier this month, revealing it to the public in a tweet that told us it was “time for [his] next adventure”, which we now know will take him to Blizzard. He had spent 20 years at Microsoft after joining them back in 2000 as a systems engineer. He moved through the company to its Xbox division before becoming vice president of gaming in 2017.
Ybarra announced his departure before Blizzard became embroiled in the Blitzchung-Hong Kong controversy. It’s a tumultuous time for the gaming giant, but with its annual expo, Blizzcon, right around the corner, it’ll soon have a big opportunity to address its difficulties. Perhaps Ybarra will be involved in that work?
Although the timing might not be ideal, Ybarra is apparently a huge Blizzard fan. He says he played “every single Blizzard game there ever was” in college, claims to be the biggest Diablo fan that “exists in the world”, and that his love of World of Warcraft almost got him “fired, divorced, starved to death”. Indeed, he reckons he “never took showers” because he “played nothing but World of Warcraft for about the first three years of that game launching”. He eventually decided he needed to “cold turkey that thing” 12 years ago – but now he’s back. Here’s hoping he logs off long enough to do some work.
The passion for Blizzard’s IPs is pretty evident in the way he talks so excitedly about getting back into World of Warcraft and the next steps for his career. It’ll be interesting to learn more about his role and what he does next at his new home.