- Layoffs at Microsoft studios, particularly at Blizzard, have resulted in a significant reduction in customer service teams for Blizzard games.
- Microsoft plans to outsource customer service for Blizzard games to third parties, potentially impacting the overall player experience.
- The gaming industry as a whole is experiencing mass layoffs, indicating a turbulent and unstable period for the industry.
The recent layoffs across the various Microsoft studios include the vast majority of the customer service team at Blizzard. This means the multiple live service games run by Blizzard are currently operating with next to no moderators, game masters, and customer service representatives.
Recently, Microsoft announced nearly 1900 layoffs, which included about 8% of its total workforce. Though many of Microsoft’s studios were affected, Activision Blizzard was hit especially hard, with president Mike Ybarra and co-founder and chief design officer Allen Adham being among those exiting the company, along with the entire development team on the now-canceled unannounced survival game.
Embracer Planning for More Layoffs
Another Embracer Group studio is hit with layoffs as the Swedish gaming giant continues its restructuring that was announced last June.
However, it seems the full impact of Microsoft’s layoffs at Blizzard Entertainment is only just revealing itself. According to Microsoft analyst Jez Corden, save a few individuals, all the customer support teams working for ABK have been let go, with his sources confirming Microsoft plans on outsourcing customer service for Blizzard games to third parties. Content creator and indie developer Bellular also pointed out these cuts will ripple outwards to other parts of the team, including community management.
This news was corroborated by former Blizzard game master Northsings. For nearly eight years, they worked as a game master on World of Warcraft, moderator for Blizzard and WoW on Twitch and the Forums, and even helped with BlizzCon. They, along with most of their fellow game masters, were laid off with little warning.
Between Call of Duty, Diablo 4, Diablo Immortal, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, and Warcraft Rumble, nearly all of Activision Blizzard’s major games are live service. As of these layoffs, most of these games are operating with little customer support. While some players have had grievances with Blizzard customer service in the past, Microsoft’s plan for outsourced moderation could provide a worse experience for fans across all of its games.
Unfortunately, Microsoft isn’t the only company in the games industry experiencing mass layoffs right now. Only a few days earlier, Riot laid off over 500 developers, and Gearbox, Embracer, and even Discord have lost personnel over the last few weeks. 2023 had a staggering number of layoffs across the industry, and even though 2024 has only just begun, it has already had over half as many as the previous year. It is no exaggeration to say the gaming industry is in a turbulent time right now – and one that is regrettably showing no signs of stabilizing in the near future.