During BlizzCon 2023's opening ceremony, Blizzard's president Mike Ybarra mentioned how it was a "new era" for the company under Xbox and Microsoft Gaming, so what exactly does he mean by this?
In a new interview with The Verge, Ybarra elaborated on how this essentially translates to more creative freedom and empowerment - potentially giving the legendary studio more of a sense of independence, a bit like it once had. Interestingly, Mike also previously worked for Spencer and Microsoft prior to life at Blizzard, which has likely helped this transitional period.
“I think the way [Spencer] approaches building teams and focusing on culture and enabling creative freedom is going to give Blizzard a lot more of that sense of being an independent studio than ever before. That’s what I really mean when I talk about a new era of possibilities, of empowerment, of serving players even better than we ever have.”
Spencer made similar comments in his own speech at BlizzCon 2023, calling the future of Blizzard "brighter than ever" under Xbox and referencing how he wanted to "empower" Microsoft's new colleagues to ensure they can continue to do what they do best.
In a separate interview with Bloomberg, Ybarra also mentioned how he expected Microsoft's hands-off approach to also apply to Blizzard - where Xbox is more open to new ideas and decisions. So instead of running ideas past Activision executives, in the future he can probably just go to Phil and speed up the whole process.
“Going to Phil and saying, ‘Hey, can we do this?’ I think he would look at me and go, ‘Run your studio". “I do think our decision-making will be faster.”
Ybarra does admit it's still early days though and "business as usual" right now, and the most Microsoft and Team Xbox have really done is the studio tour to get to know Blizzard a little better.