- 1,900 staff laid off from Microsoft’s gaming division, including Activision Blizzard, Xbox, and ZeniMax.
- President of Blizzard, Mike Ybarra, and Blizzard cofounder and chief design officer, Allen Adham, are leaving.
- Blizzard’s survival game, codenamed Project Odyssey, has been canceled.
Microsoft has made the decision to lay off a massive 1,900 staff from its gaming division. While the majority of the Microsoft layoffs are coming from Activision Blizzard, staff at Xbox and ZeniMax are also believed to be affected.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard was one of the biggest stories of 2023, with a drawn-out case that reached its conclusion in October. The move was worth a gargantuan $68.7 billion, putting Microsoft at the helm of huge franchises such as Call of Duty and Warcraft, among others. While it was undoubtedly great news for Xbox gamers, there was plenty of concern that the aggressive move would leave PlayStation users without their favorite franchises. Xbox’s purchase of Bethesda has already seen multiple titles, including Redfall and Starfield, skip PlayStation platforms, so the concerns had merit.
Rumor: Microsoft in Talks to Bring Big PlayStation Console Exclusive to Xbox
Some newly emerged evidence suggests that Microsoft is presently in talks to bring a major PlayStation console exclusive to Xbox.
First reported by The Verge, it has been confirmed that Microsoft is laying off 1,900 employees primarily across Activision Blizzard, with some Xbox and ZeniMax affected too. With the gaming division at Microsoft previously sitting at around 22,000 employees, it’s a massive cut of 8 percent of the workforce. As part of the move, president of Blizzard Mike Ybarra confirmed that he too would be leaving alongside company cofounder and chief design officer Allen Adham. According to The Verge, Blizzard’s unnamed survival game, which was first announced in early 2022, has been canceled alongside these layoffs.
- 1,900 staff laid off in total laid off
- President of Blizzard since February 2022 Mike Ybarra leaving
- Blizzard cofounder and chief design officer Allen Adham leaving
- Blizzard’s unnamed survival game codenamed Project Odyssey canceled
Microsoft is no stranger to layoffs, after cutting 10,000 jobs back in January 2023, as well as a smaller set in July. The company has undergone plenty of restructuring of late, particularly in the Xbox division. Back in October, Sarah Bond was announced as the new President of Xbox in a huge leadership shake-up. Around the same time, the company announced that the Xbox gaming division had achieved a 9 percent year-on-year uptick in revenue for Q1 2024 (spanning July 1 to September 30, 2023). With a strong performance like this, the layoffs may come as a surprise, but it should be noted that this was before the Activision Blizzard purchase was confirmed.
The latest layoffs at Microsoft are a reflection of the industry as a whole at the moment. Layoffs are coming thick and fast at many of the biggest studios the industry has to offer. Just a couple of days back, Riot Games announced massive layoffs, showing no company is safe from the need to cut back from current levels of spending. These moves certainly raise questions about the ongoing sustainability of the games industry in its current state, with no end in sight for the extremely sad series of layoffs.