- Activision Blizzard’s esports division has been hit with layoffs, impacting employees in the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League.
- The recent layoffs were part of the same wave as earlier this month and may have been delayed due to a major Call of Duty event.
- The layoffs have affected the production team, commentators, and desk hosts, leaving only 12 employees in Activision Blizzard’s esports division.
Activision Blizzard has let go of a massive chunk of its esports division following the company’s recent layoffs. The group’s high-profile body of work under Activision Blizzard includes the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League.
Mass layoffs hit the gaming industry last week when Microsoft announced that over 1,900 employees would be let go from its gaming division. These layoffs affected various gaming companies under Microsoft’s umbrella, such as Xbox and ZeniMax. However, Activision Blizzard was hit particularly hard and took the brunt of Microsoft’s downsizing. Unfortunately, it seems that some Activision Blizzard employees were just informed today, on January 30, that they would be moving on from the company.
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Scott Parkin, a former senior manager for Activision Blizzard’s esports operations, confirmed that he and his team were let go this morning after returning from the Call of Duty League’s Boston Major. He expressed frustration at Activision Blizzard’s decision to wait until the event was over to fire the majority of its esports staff, who had hoped to be in the clear after not hearing anything following last week’s layoffs. The round of layoffs also saw popular commentator Matt Morello, a.k.a MrX, and popular desk host Soe Gschwind-Repp, a.k.a. Soe, let go from their positions. The Rotation, an established Twitter account that covers Call of Duty esports and is presumed to have inside sources, claimed that only 12 employees remain in Activision Blizzard’s esports division, which sat at 72 members earlier this week. In addition, a source told PC Gamer that the recent layoffs do not represent a new round of firings, but instead are a part of the same wave from earlier this month.
Leagues Managed by Activision Blizzard’s Esports Division
- The Overwatch League
- The Call of Duty League
This news comes just a week after Blizzard announced its new Overwatch esports league in partnership with ESL FACEIT Group, which might handle the production of future events now that Activision Blizzard has gutted its own production team. Although fans might be disappointed to hear that commentators like Morello might not be a part of Overwatch events anymore, Morello stated that he hopes to remain involved with the Overwatch scene going into the future.
Blizzard’s new Overwatch Championship Series, which is set to launch later this year, is taking a much different approach than its predecessor, The Overwatch League. It will attempt to implement a more open structure that will allow any team to claw its way to the top of the world rankings, unlike The Overwatch League’s closed-off franchise structure.
It’s still unclear how these layoffs will affect the future of the Call of Duty League. The league’s next major event is less than two months away, but its entire observation crew was apparently just laid off, suggesting that Activision Blizzard will need to work with an external production crew in the future or make a lot of hires in the coming weeks.