Blizzard wanted to be free of Activision – But Microsoft won’t allow that

When Blizzard was bought by Microsoft, there was great hope that everything would change for the better. But the election of the new boss shows that that will probably not work.

When the announcement came a few months ago that Microsoft wanted to buy the entire company, there was great anticipation. Positive comments were not only heard from the developers, but this announcement was also well received in the community. The prevailing thought was:

If Activision Blizzard is bought by Microsoft, then Blizzard will finally be “free” again. The influence of other companies disappears and Blizzard can develop “like before”. You no longer have to stick to strict deadlines and the phrase “It’s done when it’s done,” which was so often used back then, would become more relevant again.

After all, Blizzard stood for extreme polishing in its early years. Games were released with comparatively few errors and largely feature complete.

A reputation that has been lost over the years and the release of Diablo III or Overwatch 2 has cemented in the minds of many fans that this time is finally over.

Blizzard’s reputation has plummeted – now with Microsoft’s purchase it could become “free” from Activision. Does this work?

When it became known shortly after the takeover that hundreds of employees had been laid off and even the previous boss Mike Ybarra – who was very popular with the community – was leaving, this hope began to crumble.

Blizzard has a pretty loyal community – no wonder, since it has been built up over several decades. In recent years, however, this feeling of loyalty has continued to decline. With the announcement that Microsoft is now taking over Blizzard, the curse seemed to have been broken for many.

The hope: Blizzard will now become more independent again and less dependent on Activision or other companies.

This was the only news Blizzard fans hoped for – the only thing they expected from a Microsoft acquisition.

The fact that Microsoft’s first official act was to throw out employees and hire Johanna Faries ultimately broke this hope. Johanna Faries most recently worked at Activision, where she was responsible for Call of Duty as “General Manager”.

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From the perspective of many long-time Blizzard fans, Call of Duty stands for exactly what Blizzard games shouldn’t be: annual releases of the (almost) same game, more and more micro-transactions and shop offers.

Now we have a pretty absurd result: Blizzard is free of Activision because the whole store now belongs to Microsoft. At the same time, Blizzard is now under the patronage of a former Activision executive.

The only thing the community had hoped for was basically ruined with a winking “Ätschibätsch”.

I don’t even want to claim that Johanna Faries is unsuitable for the job. In fact, I thought her initial letter to employees was pretty good and I hope it was more than just empty words.

However, if you wanted to show the community that Blizzard is now “free” again, then letting a former Activision woman run the very store that actually wanted to be free of Activision’s influence is a very strange move.

I can only hope that Faries herself takes the words in her letter very seriously and that her appointment as President of Blizzard Entertainment ultimately turns out to be a good thing that benefits both the developers and the gaming community.

But this choice alone creates a very bad aftertaste.

But hey, reporting on Blizzard has been a little painful for years.

Or how do you see it?