Blizzard’s president Mike Ybarra and its chief design officer Allen Adham are leaving the studio, which has also seen a previously announced survival game cancelled.
The senior leadership departures from the World of Warcraft developer were confirmed on Monday alongside the news that Microsoft is cutting 1,900 staff across Xbox, Bethesda and Activision Blizzard.
“As many of you know, Mike previously spent more than 20 years at Microsoft. Now that he has seen the acquisition through as Blizzard’s president, he has decided to leave the company,” Microsoft’s game content and studios president, Matt Booty, said in an internal memo obtained by The Verge.
A new Blizzard president will reportedly be confirmed by Microsoft next week.
“As one of Blizzard’s cofounders, Allen has had a broad impact on all of Blizzard’s games,” Booty said. “His influence will be felt for years to come, both directly and indirectly as Allen plans to continue mentoring young designers across the industry.”
The studio’s untitled survival game, which was announced in January 2022, is no longer in development.
Booty said Microsoft would be “shifting some of the people working on it to one of several promising new projects Blizzard has in the early stages of development”.
I want to thank everyone who is impacted today for their meaningful contributions to their teams, to Blizzard, and to players’ lives. It’s an incredibly hard day and my energy and support will be focused on all those amazing individuals impacted – this is in no way a reflection…
— Mike Ybarra 🎄 (@Qwik) January 25, 2024
The senior Blizzard departures were confirmed alongside the news that Microsoft is cutting roughly 8% of its overall gaming division, which has around 22,000 employees.
In a message sent to staff, Microsoft’s head of gaming Phil Spencer said the company would provide “full support to those who are impacted during the transition, including severance benefits informed by local employment laws”.
According to the exec, the decision was taken after Microsoft and Activision Blizzard’s leadership teams “set priorities, identified areas of overlap, and ensured that we’re all aligned on the best opportunities for growth”.
Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion deal that closed last October.