Three months after it purchased Activision Blizzard, Microsoft has laid off 1,900 staff across multiple areas of its video game business.
In a continuation of the multiple job losses we’ve seen across the games industry in both 2023 and the first few weeks of this year, Microsoft has announced that it’s to lay off some 1,900 staff across multiple areas of its video game business. The move comes little more than three months after Microsoft purchased Activision Blizzard for a record-breaking $68.7bn.
Earlier today, IGN picked up a memo written by Xbox head Phil Spencer, who acknowledged the brief period of time between Microsoft’s acquisition and this round of job losses.
“As we move forward in 2024,” he wrote, “the leadership of Microsoft Gaming and Activision Blizzard is committed to aligning on a strategy and 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 aligned on the best opportunities for growth.
By Spencer’s own reckoning, there are 22,000 members of staff among its gaming division, meaning the 1,900 job losses represent about 8 percent of its total workforce.
The layoffs appear to have been as much of a surprise to Microsoft staff as they were to the outside world; on Twitter/X, Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreier wrote that, “These Xbox layoffs are such a mess that staff across Activision Blizzard are texting *me* to try to find out if they might be impacted. Nearly 2,000 job cuts and people now just have to wait around to see if they’re part of the bloodbath.”
As news filtered out, Blizzard Entertainment president Mike Ybarra announced that he’s also leaving the post he’s occupied for five years. Also writing on Twitter/X, Ybarra didn’t give a reason for his departure, but instead expressed his sympathy for the staff losing their jobs.
“To all those impacted today,” Ybarra wrote, “I am always available to you and understand how challenging today’s news is. My heart is with each of you.”
Also leaving the company is Allen Adham, Blizzard’s chief design officer and one of the studio’s co-founders.
Along with the staff cuts, development on Project Odyssey, a multi-platform survival game Blizzard has been working on for around six years, has also been halted.
The job losses at Microsoft come mere days after GI.biz’s sobering report which suggested that 2024 could see an escalation in the number of job losses we saw last year. According to a bracing statistic tweeted by Kotaku, at least 5,900 people have lost their jobs so far in 2024 – and we’re only 25 days in.