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1,900 Workers Laid Off Across Xbox, Blizzard And Bethesda

A new survival game from Blizzard was also cancelled

Initially broken by The Verge, details have come out to reveal that Microsoft is the latest gaming employer to shed a portion of its workforce.

The major companies affected include Activision Blizzard, Xbox and ZeniMax employers, with the reduction ending up being roughly 8 percent of the 22,000 strong gaming workforce.

An internal memo from Phil Spencer reads as follows:

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.

Phil

Reports to news outlets reveal that many of the staff represent customer support offerings, with reports that these workforces are intended to be outsourced moving forward. This also impacts many community managers, a necessity when working with populace titles across the Blizzard space.

A noticeable targeting came to the team that was working on a new survival IP for Blizzard. Codenamed Project Odyssey, the game had been in various states of development since 2017; and had ramped up it’s team and development pace throughout 2022. Nearly 100 people had assembled to drive the title toward release, with a lofty but not wholly unattainable goal of hitting the market in 2026. The team has since been let go, with the project announced to be cancelled.

Blizzard president Mike Ybarra has also left the company, alongside original founder Allen Adham who returned to the company in 2016. Mike Ybarra in particular has been quoted as wanting to be “In it for the long haul” and would only leave “If dragged out,” adding further consternation to the outcome of these decisions.

It is a heart-breaking set of news to add to an already volatile year for the gaming industry – we have not yet left January and we are already looking at a collected set of job losses that equate to nearly 60% of all job losses for 2023. Close to 5,900 video game industry layoffs from major players in the space, painting a very bleak future for those wishing to break into the industry.

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It’s been a scant three months since the major acquisition of Activision Blizzard took place, so for many the wait for news was one of trepidation and hope. Many expected the first real impact of Microsoft on the Blizzard teams would be a positive one, but instead it’s more corporate gear grinding.

Shoutouts to The Verge, with additional details reported via Jason Schreier of Bloomberg.

Written By Ash Wayling

Known throughout the interwebs simply as M0D3Rn, Ash is bad at video games. An old guard gamer who suffers from being generally opinionated, it comes as no surprise that he is both brutally loyal and yet, fiercely whimsical about all things electronic. On occasion will make a youtube video that actually gets views. Follow him on YouTube @Bad at Video Games

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