Activision Blizzard are reportedly laying off 50 employees in a major restructure to their Esports Division. The layoffs will effect both the Call of Duty League and the Overwatch League, and happens weeks before the latter launches its 2021 season.
Well, Activision Blizzard are proving themselves fabulous humans once again with this latest round of layoffs. Fifty people, possibly more, and some from a division that have been working hard as f**k in the leadup to Overwatch Leagues 2021 debut on April 16. It's all okay, though, because they are giving everyone $200 Battle.net Gift Cards.
More on today's Activision Blizzard layoffs:— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) March 16, 2021
- 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
Well, aren't they nice? We're sure that the good folks over at OWL and CDL will be very pleased with their $200 gift card. Nice way for Activision Blizzard to channel money right back through to themselves again. A zero sum game, nothing to complain about whatsoever! Oh, and there's also the fact that it will probably be more than 50 people. Joy to the world, the publisher sings.
Activision Blizzard had originally announced that the layoffs were 50 people in the esports/live events departments but the real number appears to be much higher. Person familiar says it was less than 2% of total staff (2% would be around 190)— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) March 16, 2021
The story broke via the Esports Observer, whom revealed that the layoffs were partially due to Covid-19 having effected the Esports live tournaments. Despite of the layoff's, however, the publisher seemed rather positive about future live events, when they were speaking with GamesIndustryBiz:
Live events are still very much a part of both the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League strategies... We plan to get back to them as soon as it's safe to do so, and logistically feasible.
Well, if the live events are coming back, then why the layoffs? Sorry, Activision Blizzard, Call of Duty earned you $3 billion in 2020. That is, if the MANY zeros are confusing you, THREE BILLION US DOLLARS in just one year. That is just one franchise that the publisher owns... So no, it does not really sound like these fifty people were that big a drain on resources.
Tony Petitti, not to be confused with Tom Petty, is the president of sports and entertainment over at Activision Blizzard. He has a lot to say about how the publisher will be restructuring to optimize their use of this little thing called "The Internet".
We learned a lot last year in terms of how the leagues can be structured for online play, and we’ll look to carry forward the best practices from that... In terms of timing, it’s a reaction to the realities of how the leagues are playing, and what resources we need to allocate to best serve the league, owners, teams and fans.
Tony, please allow us a single scoff – *SCOFF* – oh, and a sigh of course. Honestly, mate, let's not play this "blah blah blah to best serve the league, etc." rubbish. We can see through it, you're not fooling anybody.
I unfortunately am part of the ABE layoffs and am looking for observing, editing, production, and broadcast-related opportunities.— Willow, aka Moirai (@MoiraiObs) March 16, 2021
You can take a look at all my work here:https://t.co/RtnoUImybg
Most likely, Activision Blizzard is seeking to reduce its expenditure, and increase its profits until in-person live events are viable again. They may, or may not, really mind the effect that these layoffs will have on the actual human beings sitting at the receiving end of the table. We don't know, maybe your intentions are legitimate, but it's just a little hard to believe.
We have reached out to Activision Blizzard for comment on the exact number of layoffs that are being experienced, the specifics of the severance packages being provided, and for a thorough explanation as to why these layoffs were necessary.
We are yet to receive a reply, but will update this article as required.