While some video game publishers and developers have managed to capitalize on recent trends and popular genres — namely, Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment, with the newly-released Apex Legends— some publishers have not fared as well, which is having a big effect on their bottom line. It seems that one publisher, in particular, is feeling the pressure, and its employees are bearing the brunt of it all.
As recently reported by Kotaku, Activision Blizzard has just begun its layoff process, which has been rumored to have been coming for some time. As Kotaku’s Jason Schreier notes, the layoffs could number in the hundreds.
It’s worth breaking down what companies and business units make up the holding company:
- Best known for the long-running Call of Duty series, Activision has been publishing games since 1980. Other popular series include Destiny, Skylanders, Spyro the Dragon, and Crash Bandicoot
- Blizzard Entertainment has been a staple in the PC community for decades. Having gained massive popularity with the Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft games, the company has seen recent success with Overwatch and the trading card game Hearthstone
- King is a video game developer best known for developing Candy Crush Saga
Activision Blizzard also owns Major League Gaming — a professional eSports organization — and Activision Blizzard Studios, which has produced Skylanders Academy, a Netflix original TV series.
A fun reminder in this midst of these Activision/Blizzard layoffs, apropos of nothing https://t.co/YUnUBqQHRN
— Ryan Ike (@RyanIkeComposer) February 12, 2019
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick weighed in on the company’s earnings call, which took place this afternoon. As Kotick explained, the company “once again achieved record results in 2018,” but would still be restructuring, due to lowered expectation for the year as well as falling short of expectations for 2018.
The news is still trickling in, although Kotaku notes that at Blizzard Entertainment, layoffs seem to only be affecting departments not actively involved in game development (such as eSports).
“Over the last few years, many of our non-development teams expanded to support various needs,” Blizzard president J. Allen Brack relayed to staff in a note, which was obtained by Kotaku.
“Currently staffing levels on some teams are out of proportion with our current release slate. This means we need to scale down some areas of our organization. I’m sorry to share that we will be parting ways with some of our colleagues in the U.S. today. In our regional offices, we anticipate similar evaluations, subject to local requirements.”
Blizzard employees being laid off have also been promised a severance package which includes career guidance, health benefits, and assistance in finding new jobs. Profit sharing bonuses related to the company’s performance in 2018 would also be included.
“There’s no way to make this transition easy for impacted employees, but we are doing what we can to support our colleagues,” Brack explained.
At the time of writing, it remains to be seen how the rest of Activision Blizzard’s business units will be affected.