What you need to know
- The gaming industry has been rife with layoffs over the last year, with thousands of jobs cut and a number of studios closed.
- Microsoft is cutting 1900 jobs across Activision Blizzard, Xbox Game Studios, and ZeniMax Media.
- Blizzard Entertainment president Mike Ybarra is departing Microsoft.
- Most of the cuts appear to be at Blizzard Entertainment, with the previously-teased survival game canceled.
Microsoft is laying off 1900 employees from its gaming teams.
In an email to employees that was shared with Windows Central via an anonymous source, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer wrote that 1900 jobs (out of an existing 22,000) were being cut in order to set a "sustainable cost structure."
You can read Phil Spencer's full email to the Xbox organization below:
It’s been a little over three months since the Activision, Blizzard, and King teams joined Microsoft. As we move forward in 2024, the leadership of Microsoft Gaming and Activision Blizzard is committed to aligning on a strategy and an execution plan with a sustainable cost structure that will support the whole of our growing business. Together, we’ve set priorities, identified areas of overlap, and ensured that we’re all aligned on the best opportunities for growth.
As part of this process, we have made the painful decision to reduce the size of our gaming workforce by approximately 1900 roles out of the 22,000 people on our team. The Gaming Leadership Team and I are committed to navigating this process as thoughtfully as possible. The people who are directly impacted by these reductions have all played an important part in the success of Activision Blizzard, ZeniMax and the Xbox teams, and they should be proud of everything they’ve accomplished here. We are grateful for all of the creativity, passion and dedication they have brought to our games, our players and our colleagues. We will provide our full support to those who are impacted during the transition, including severance benefits informed by local employment laws. Those whose roles will be impacted will be notified, and we ask that you please treat your departing colleagues with the respect and compassion that is consistent with our values.
Looking ahead, we'll continue to invest in areas that will grow our business and support our strategy of bringing more games to more players around the world. Although this is a difficult moment for our team, I'm as confident as ever in your ability to create and nurture the games, stories and worlds that bring players together.
Blizzard Entertainment's leadership is changing amid cuts
Alongside the news of these layoffs, we've learned that Blizzard Entertainment president Mike Ybarra is leaving the company. In a statement on Twitter, Ybarra wrote that "Leading Blizzard through an incredible time and being part of the team, shaping it for the future ahead, was an absolute honor. Having already spent 20+ years at Microsoft and with the acquisition of Activision Blizzard behind us, it’s time for me to (once again) become Blizzard’s biggest fan from the outside."
Project Odyssey, Blizzard's previously teased survival game, has also been canceled, while Blizzard senior vice president Allan Adham is also departing the company. Per our managing editor Jez Corden, it appears large portions of the customer service teams are also being impacted.
Multiple sources tell me that Microsoft is laying off the entire internal customer support team(s) for ABK games, save a few. MS will outsource the rest to external companies abroad.ABK was one of the few games pubs with a high-quality internal customer support team.January 25, 2024
Microsoft's cuts are the latest in a sea of layoffs
While Microsoft cutting jobs is brutal, it's hardly the only company to be doing so. Mere days ago, League of Legends developer and publisher Riot Games confirmed it was cutting 530 jobs, or 11% of its global workforce. This also follows months of cuts and closures with reductions at Bungie and the shuttering of studios like Volition.
Analysis: Gross doesn't cover it
The gaming industry has been awash in layoffs over the last year, and it's getting more depressing each time. After Microsoft finalized its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, there was inevitably going to be some crossover and redundancy that would have to be trimmed. 1900 jobs? This is just counter-productive and insulting, especially coming from a company that just passed a $3 trillion market cap and saw almost $57 billion in revenue for the Q1 2024 fiscal period.
It also runs counter to how Microsoft has opened itself up for labor movements over the past year and half, allowing employees at ZeniMax Media to unionize and working with those teams to raise benefits and pay as requested.
My heart goes out to everyone affected by this decision.
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