In sweeping news yesterday, game publisher Activision Blizzard began 2021 layoffs with about 50 of its employees. What’s more, this move comes from plans to decrease the focus on live esports events for its major games.
More on today's Activision Blizzard layoffs:
– Dozens of people at the whole company were impacted, not just in live events
– In addition to 90 days severance and a year of health benefits, laid-off staff received… $200 https://t.co/2AtmAWTUNz gift cardshttps://t.co/lkzUO33kXi
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) March 16, 2021
According to Bloomberg, less than 2% of employees will lose their jobs with the major esports company. Since 2% of the full headcount is about 190 employees, it’s likely that the number of layoffs at Blizzard will continue to increase. The esports department especially received more layoffs than what was reported now that the company seeks to increase focus on online events instead of live events.
Activision executive Tony Petitti states that these employees will get “proper severance packages.” Leaving people jobless during a global pandemic is certainly a tough decision when stability is essential. Thankfully, the severance package from Blizzard is fairly generous. Employees laid off receive at least 90 days severance and health benefits for a year. Though it’s interesting to note that part of the package includes a $200 gift card for Battle.net, Blizzard’s own gaming client.
Esports Live Events
While these changes may make sense at first with live events getting canceled anyway, that’s no longer accurate. As COVID-19 vaccines spread globally, live events may return by the end of 2021. Blizzard cited the mass employee layoffs to the business impacts of the pandemic. However, Call of Duty League and Overwatch League took place online last year and still do now. Fans believe the timing of these cuts over a year into the pandemic is suspicious.
“It seems like Blizzard is trying to do away with how esports ran about 2-3 years ago,” a former Blizzard employee stated. “Some of the employees laid off were key players in the esports scene. To know that they are slowly doing away with that is really sad. We all had a feeling that something like this may happen due to the massive spending on Overwatch League previously.”
Despite Activision Blizzard reporting a massive $8B+ in 2020 revenue, mass layoffs continue throughout its company. And although Activision implied that focus away from esports is the big reason, many employees from other departments are also being let go.
Peter Bowman, a major contributor to Call of Duty esports, revealed that he was let go yesterday.
Nothing but love to the Call of Duty / CDL family. It’s been an absolute honor to contribute where I could over the last eight years on COD. And to the players/community – you’ve got a passionate group there in your corner.
Onto the next thing.
— PeTerBowman (@heypbowman) March 16, 2021
Jeremy Chan, a social media manager for Major League Gaming and Call of Duty League, also announced the news yesterday.
Well, I was one of those affected by the ATVI/Blizz layoffs. Looking to take my talents on a new journey!
▪️ Managed ALL Call of Duty esports social from MLG, CWL, to CDL
▪️ 10+ yrs in video game industry incl. marketing, editorial, & PR
— Jeremy Chan (@jermtheory) March 16, 2021
The gaming and esports communities are distraught after the news yesterday with industry professionals looking for work in a difficult job marketplace right now. Everyone wonders what Blizzard has in store for 2021 after these mass layoffs and esports department cuts. Stay tuned to see how live esports events from Blizzard titles change over this year.
Written by Justin Amin
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