After an official report indicating Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare failed to perform as expected, Activision has laid off a number of staff, even an entire department.
In spite of record earnings over the course of the year, Activision laid off 20 employees from Infinity Ward, the studio behind development of the not-so-hit game, Infinite Warfare. Infinite Warfare‘s failure to succeed is highlighted when you compare sales of its predecessor Black Ops 3, where commentators note that launch sales for Infinite Warfare were about 50 percent lower than Black Ops 3. This is a huge margin, and it seems to indicate a growing fatigue among gamers for the more arcade-style jump, fly, and run science fiction settings.
Battlefield One took advantage of falling sales in the sci-fi shooter genre, harkening back to the roots of FPS games with a World War One setting. As such, it is no surprise Activision laid off a number of employees.
In addition to the 20 employees from Infinity Ward, Activision also closed down its Beenox Q&A division, which, while not a development firm, is still a significant cutback in personnel. Beenox is still active, with about 150 employees.
So why did Activision lay off workers despite a record-setting year for earnings?
The official statement released to Kotaku by Activision was “Activision Publishing is realigning our resources to support our upcoming slate and adapt to the accelerating transition to digital, including opportunities for digital add-on content.”
After cutting through the business-speak, it becomes clear that Activision is trying to shift focus more towards other business ventures rather than just the Call of Duty franchise.
Keep in mind, Activision also owns Blizzard, and Overwatch has been a massive money maker for the company since its release. Additionally, the company drastically expanded into the mobile market, acquiring Candy Crush maker King, which impacted earnings significantly.
According to Gamasutra, “Blizzard’s class-based multiplayer hero shooter Overwatch, which reached 25 million players globally over 2016, was a major highlight for Activision Blizzard’s year, helping drive revenues to a record $6.61 billion for the year ended December 31.
Those sales are up 42 percent compared to 2015, with Candy Crush-maker King, which Activision acquired during the year to flesh out its mobile game strategy, contributing to that growth.”
The business talk also indicates a growing interest in DLC as a form of profitability. Destiny 2 is slated for release sometime this year, and that style of game is perfect for small transaction expansions. The original Destiny turned plenty of profit off the various DLC’s which came out. Furthermore, mobile platform games contribute to micro-transaction content, another form of DLC that tends to be highly profitable.
It will be interesting to see what happens next to Infinity Ward. Losing 20 people is a fairly significant cutback, and while there are still a couple years left in the typical development cycle of a CoD game, revamping and reorganizing the studio to take advantage of the returning meta of ground-based (not double jump) combat will not doubt play a crucial role in the redevelopment of the studio.
Another question to ask is what will become of the Call of Duty games currently in development? If sales of Infinite Warfare are anything to go on (which they are), if the currently in-development games are following along in its footsteps, it appears likely they will flop as well.
No doubt Activision is taking all these things into account as they plan for the future of a profitable franchise, but how they will react to the changing demands of gamers should be fascinating to follow.
So what are your thoughts on Activision’s layoff of 20 Infinity Ward employees? Tell us what you think about the future of the Call of Duty franchise and what should be done to revitalize it in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images]