Tough move: Mike Ybarra plays a role as Blizzard’s VP and General Manager in the middle of a heated debate over Hong Kong protests and the anticipation of the forthcoming BlizzCon activity. His name can sound familiar as he has been working for 10 years on Xbox Live hosting. Perhaps Blizzard needs new blood to weather the current firestorm.
Current Xbox executive Mike Ybarra would soon become Blizzard’s executive vice president and general manager.
Ybarra worked at Microsoft for nearly 20 years starting as a software engineer in 2000, being promoted to Xbox Live’s general manager in 2009. Since then, he has held executive duties for Game Pass as well as for Mixer.
The VP tweeted on Thursday that on November 4, right after BlizzCon, he would move into his new position.
“To provide gamers with amazing content and experiences, we will work with all our resources,” he said. “I can’t wait to be part of this team.” When co-founder Michael Morhaime stepped down last year, Blizzard was without an official GM. Ybarra will take over from the president and co-founderof Blizzard, J. Allen Brack, who in the meantime was filling the vacuum.
Once he moves into the office, the new VP will inherit a PR nightmare. Recently, the publisher has been embroiled in no small amount of controversy over the ban on professional player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung during a post-tournament interview to flash a pro-Hong Kong message.
There are rumors circulating that next week Blizzard will reveal Diablo 4 at BlizzCon. It seems like this chatter is happening just about every year, but if this time the scuttlebutt holds true, it could be a happier turn of events for the fresh executive. An announcement of an imminent release of D4 could go a long way to calm the controversy about the recent actions of the company.