Microsoft lays off 1,900 employees from Activision Blizzard and Xbox

Blizzard President Mike Ybarra out as well

Xbox logo on a bright, green background.

According to IGN, Microsoft has fired 1,900 employees from its video game divisions including Xbox and Activision Blizzard. The layoffs affect almost 9% of the 22,000 employees at the company. In a memo to staff, Microsoft Gaming CEO claims the layoffs come after leadership at Microsoft Gaming and Activision Blizzard identified areas of overlap following the recent acquisition of Activision, Blizzard, and King.

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Here is the full memo Phil Spencer sent to staff:

It’s been a little over three months since the Activision, Blizzard, and King teams joined Microsoft. As we move forward in 2024, the leadership of Microsoft Gaming and Activision Blizzard is committed to aligning on a strategy and an 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 all aligned on the best opportunities for growth.

As part of this process, we have made the painful decision to reduce the size of our gaming workforce by approximately 1,900 roles out of the 22,000 people on our team. The Gaming Leadership Team and I are committed to navigating this process as thoughtfully as possible. The people who are directly impacted by these reductions have all played an important part in the success of Activision Blizzard, ZeniMax and the Xbox teams, and they should be proud of everything they’ve accomplished here. We are grateful for all of the creativity, passion and dedication they have brought to our games, our players and our colleagues. We will provide our full support to those who are impacted during the transition, including severance benefits informed by local employment laws. Those whose roles will be impacted will be notified, and we ask that you please treat your departing colleagues with the respect and compassion that is consistent with our values.

Looking ahead, we’ll continue to invest in areas that will grow our business and support our strategy of bringing more games to more players around the world. Although this is a difficult moment for our team, I’m as confident as ever in your ability to create and nurture the games, stories and worlds that bring players together.

– Phil Spencer, Microsoft Gaming CEO
Activision Blizzard logo.
Image via Activision Blizzard.

Blizzard President out as well, survival game canceled

Shortly after the news broke, Blizzard President Mike Ybarra took to Twitter to announce that today would be his last day at Blizzard. According to Ybarra, “with the acquisition of Activision Blizzard behind us, it’s time for me to (once again) become Blizzard’s biggest fan from the outside.”

Ybarra was at Microsoft for over 20 years before joining Blizzard, becoming its President in 2021. As a huge Blizzard fan, this feels like a big loss, as World of Warcraft has certainly started to improve under Ybarra.

According to The Verge, the previously unannounced survival game that Blizzard had been working on has also been canceled. This would have been the first new IP by Blizzard since Overwatch. Head of Xbox Studios Matt Booty confirmed the cancellation.

As part of this focus, Blizzard is ending development on its survival game project and will be shifting some of the people working on it to one of several promising new projects Blizzard has in the early stages of development.

– Matt Booty, Head of Xbox Studios

This all just feels so strange to me. It’s only been three months since Microsoft acquire Activision for a record-breaking $69 billion, one of the biggest tech acquisitions ever. And yet, almost 2,000 employees are losing their jobs.

While certainly one of the biggest reductions in the workforce recently, unfortunately, the news feels par for the course in the games industry at the moment. In just the last few days, several other companies have undergone layoffs including League of Legends creator Riot Games and Outriders developer People Can Fly.

In 2023 over 10,000 jobs were lost in the industry. We’re not even out of January and 2024 has already seen almost half of that.

About The Author
Steven Mills
Staff Writer - Steven has been writing in some capacity for over a decade now. He has a passion for story focused RPG's like the Final Fantasy franchise and ARPG's like Diablo and Path of Exile. But really, he's willing to try anything.
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