Former Xbox VP Mike Ybarra Reveals New Job: Executive VP and GM of Blizzard Entertainment

By Sam Quirke,
Just a week out from Blizzcon 2019, former Xbox Live and Game Pass VP Mike Ybarra has revealed his exciting new role, the one that tempted him away from 20 years of service at Microsoft. Ybarra is now the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Blizzard Entertainment, according to his Twitter announcement:

Blizzard Entertainment is in serious need of some decent PR, after years of continued frustrations with Overwatch, a Diablo smartphone game announcement last year that landed like a bomb, and most recently a hugely embarrassing and controversial series of PR gaffes around a Hearthstone pro player's comments about the situation in Hong Kong.

Ybarra is walking into the lion's den: Blizzard fans are passionate and opinionated even in the company's better moments, and player confidence is perhaps at an all-time low. But Ybarra is probably one of the best people to bring in for just this situation, given that he had a hand in most of the confidence-building strategies and campaigns at Xbox following the disastrous Mattrick-era reveal of the original Xbox One.

Surely this massive change at the top for Blizzard means something for Blizzcon in a week's time? All signs point to a Diablo IV announcement. There's a fresh rumour about a proper fourth iteration of the franchise every few months, but the specific "leak" this time around as well as Ybarra's big move before a major company event lend a little more credence to the theories. Diablo IV gets a mention in a German magazine ad for an upcoming Diablo IV art book — an art book which releases on the final day of Blizzcon:

Twitch streamer Metro, who has successfully leaked Blizzard information in the past, claims that both Diablo IV and a Diablo II remaster are going to be announced, along with another big surprise: Overwatch 2. Obviously there is nothing to back this up at the moment beyond his word, so that lead is a lot more tenuous. However, if Blizzard were ever going to gamble on a triple-whammy of big announcements, 2019 is a crucial year for them to do so.

Whatever happens at Blizzcon, which kicks off on Friday November 1st, it's safe to say that Mike Ybarra has an exciting, daunting task on his hands. Here's hoping he can turn things around in the same way his contributions at Xbox helped shape a far brighter future for the company.

Sources: Gamespot, Metro.
Sam Quirke
Written by Sam Quirke
Sam has been a Newshound since 2016. He loves gaming on all devices and in all genres. He remains a stubborn Assassin's Creed and Pokémon fan.