LOADING ...

Activision Blizzard Lays Off Hundreds Of Employees

Jason Schreier Feb 13, 2019. 22 comments

Publisher Activision Blizzard has begun its long-rumored layoff process, informing employees this afternoon that it will be cutting staff. On an earnings call this afternoon, the company said that it would be eliminating 8% of its staff. In 2018, Activision Blizzard had roughly 9,600 employees, which would mean nearly 800 people are now out of work.

This afternoon, the mega-publisher began notifying those who are being laid off across its various organizations, which include Activision, Blizzard, and King.

On the earnings call, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick told investors that the company had “once again achieved record results in 2018" but that the company would be consolidating and restructuring because of missed expectations for 2018 and lowered expectations for 2019. The company said it would be cutting mainly non-game-development departments and bolstering its development staff for franchises like Call of Duty and Diablo.

Development sources from across the industry told Kotaku this afternoon that the layoffs have affected Activision publishing, Blizzard, King, and some of Activision’s studios, including High Moon.

At Blizzard, the layoffs appear to only have affected non-game-development departments, such as publishing and esports, both of which were expected to be hit hard.

“Over the last few years, many of our non-development teams expanded to support various needs,” Blizzard president J. Allen Brack said in a note to staff around 1pm PT that 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.”

The letter also promised “a comprehensive severance package,” continued health benefits, career coaching, and job placement assistance as well as profit-sharing bonuses for the previous year to those who are being laid off at Blizzard. (Blizzard employees receive twice yearly bonuses based on how the company performed financially.) “There’s no way to make this transition easy for impacted employees, but we are doing what we can to support our colleagues,” Brack wrote.

The news follows months of rumors about layoffs at the publisher, which heated up early last week as word began to spread that hundreds of people across Activision Blizzard’s various divisions might lose their jobs. Leading up to today, some of the publisher’s employees had been coming to work with no clue as to what might happen. One person at Blizzard told me this morning that as employees arrived, they cried and exchanged hugs in the parking lot.

Last fall, Kotaku reported that Blizzard’s 2018 mandate had been to cut costs and produce more games, and that as a result, layoffs would likely hit the company’s support departments even as Blizzard continues to expand its development teams. Brack’s email suggests the same. “It’s critical that we prioritize product development and grow the capacity of the teams doing this work to best serve our player community,” he wrote. “We also need to evolve operationally to provide the best support for new and existing products.”

Meanwhile, in a press release to investors this afternoon, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick wrote: “While our financial results for 2018 were the best in our history, we didn’t realize our full potential. To help us reach our full potential, we have made a number of important leadership changes. These changes should enable us to achieve the many opportunities our industry affords us, especially with our powerful owned franchises, our strong commercial capabilities, our direct digital connections to hundreds of millions of players, and our extraordinarily talented employees.”

22 Comments

Other Jason Schreier's posts

Dragon Quest XI On Switch Lets You Make NPCs Lie Dragon Quest XI On Switch Lets You Make NPCs Lie

This week, Nintendo put out a demo for the Switch version of Dragon Quest XI, and it’s got at least a few new features we didn’t know about before. My favorite has to be the toggle that makes townspeople lie.Dragon Quest XI, which came out last year for PS4 and PC and launches on September 27 for Switch (as...

Ask Kotaku's Staff Anything [UPDATE: Over] Ask Kotaku's Staff Anything [UPDATE: Over]

It is Thursday, August 22, 2019, and there sure is a lot going on. Why not take this opportunity to ask Kotaku’s staff anything you’d like? We’ll be here for an hour or two. Questions go below.UPDATE: We’re done! See you all next time.

The Guy From The Big Short Is Investing Big In GameStop The Guy From The Big Short Is Investing Big In GameStop

Common wisdom in the video game world is that GameStop is on its way out thanks to the rise of digital distribution, but hedge fund operator Michael Burry, who made an unfathomable amount of money by betting against subprime mortgages, is all in. His fund even owns 3 million shares, or about 3% of the struggling retailer.Burry, best known...

GameStop Lays Off Over 100 People, Including Nearly Half Of Game Informer's Staff GameStop Lays Off Over 100 People, Including Nearly Half Of Game Informer's Staff

The struggling retail chain GameStop laid off over a hundred employees today, both at its corporate headquarters in Grapevine, Texas and at other offices including its subsidiary Game Informer magazine in Minnesota, where nearly half of the editorial staff lost their jobs in a surprise cut.“As part of the previously announced GameStop Reboot initiative to transform our business for the...

Suggested posts

By The Gods, I Just Want To Hang Out At Charon's Shop In Hades By The Gods, I Just Want To Hang Out At Charon's Shop In Hades

Escaping the House of Hades is no easy task. The ever-changing pathways through the Underworld are filled with danger—vicious specters prowl, eager for a kill, and traps are scattered everywhere. The music is a steady, pulsating rhythm to amplify that struggle. It can feel daunting. That’s why, whenever Charon’s shop appears, it’s a welcome respite. I’ve played about eight...

Collecting Things (And Silly Animals) In Dragon Quest Builders 2 Is Stressful Fun Collecting Things (And Silly Animals) In Dragon Quest Builders 2 Is Stressful Fun

There has never been a video game checklist that I didn’t simultaneously love and hate. The Explorer’s Shores islands found in Dragon Quest Builders 2 are chock full of them, and I could not resist their siren songs. They led me to mini-adventures that were fun and mildly frustrating, as well as an absurd encounter with a foolish animal....

Modern Warfare's Alpha Has Me Feeling Good About The Gameplay Modern Warfare's Alpha Has Me Feeling Good About The Gameplay

This weekend, Call of Duty players on PlayStation 4 are getting hands-on with this fall’s Modern Warfare. Activision has launched an early alpha of the new 2v2 “Gunfight” mode, and so far it’s mostly good vibes and fast-paced gameplay for Infinity Ward’s rebooted Duty.Modern Warfare’s alpha was originally scheduled to hit the PlayStation store today, August 23, but was...

Life Is Strange 2's Fourth Episode Puts Its Hero Through The Wringer Life Is Strange 2's Fourth Episode Puts Its Hero Through The Wringer

By the end of the latest episode of Life Is Strange 2, the game’s protagonist Sean Diaz has nearly been broken, physically and mentally. But at least he still has his brother.The most recent episode is the fourth entry in the series, which will eventually be five episodes. Its story continues in the same heart-breaking vein as the prior...

What Are You Playing This Weekend? What Are You Playing This Weekend?

The weekend is for cleaning the house, for real this time, not like all those other weekends I said I would clean and then didn’t. Does that sound convincing? Let’s be honest: I’m probably just going to pause every half hour to play video games instead.Rad came out this week, and while I wasn’t super in love with it...

New Game From The Developers Of Her Story Is An Unsettling Trip Through Stolen NSA Footage New Game From The Developers Of Her Story Is An Unsettling Trip Through Stolen NSA Footage

Telling Lies, the latest work of interactive fiction from Her Story creator Sam Barlow, invites players to curl up in front of their computer and comb through hours of leaked fictional National Security Agency footage. Mostly, that involves watching the game’s characters via their webcams and other video sources, everything having been captured without their knowledge. The player must...

Dragon Quest XI On Switch Lets You Make NPCs Lie Dragon Quest XI On Switch Lets You Make NPCs Lie

This week, Nintendo put out a demo for the Switch version of Dragon Quest XI, and it’s got at least a few new features we didn’t know about before. My favorite has to be the toggle that makes townspeople lie.Dragon Quest XI, which came out last year for PS4 and PC and launches on September 27 for Switch (as...

Fortnite Nerfed The Mech Fortnite Nerfed The Mech

After weeks of player outcry, developer Epic made some significant changes to Fortnite’s mechanical Brute today. The Brute now does less damage, spawns less, and no longer collects materials when it stomps buildings and objects.Epic outlined the changes in a post titled “B.R.U.T.E Balance Adjustments.” The Brute now fires a max of six rockets at a time instead of...

Red Dead Redemption 2 Bird Mod Is Magnificently Chill Red Dead Redemption 2 Bird Mod Is Magnificently Chill

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game that can be chill, but eventually, somebody pulls a gun on you, or a coyote attacks, or you wander into a whinnying horse fire hell zone. To achieve true chill, you must rise above it all. Thanks to mods, you can.YouTuber Jedijosh920 (via Polygon) used player model mods to swap out grumpy...

Fire Emblem Hacker Makes The Gatekeeper Playable, And His Charm Stat Is Huge Fire Emblem Hacker Makes The Gatekeeper Playable, And His Charm Stat Is Huge

Greetings, professor! Nothing to report! Well, there is one thing. A Fire Emblem: Three Houses hacker has figured out how to recruit the man, the myth, the character whose voice you’re reading this in right now, the Gatekeeper, into his class. This has led to some fascinating discoveries.In the weeks since Three Houses’ release, the Gatekeeper has become a...

Language