Microsoft, a major tech company, has recently made a significant move in the gaming industry. Three months after completing its jaw-dropping $68.7 billion acquisition of renowned gaming company Activision Blizzard, the company has announced the layoff of 1,900 employees from its gaming divisions. This amounts to about 8.6% of the 22,000 Microsoft employees in the gaming sector. As a result of this acquisition, Blizzard president Mike Ybarra has also declared his departure from the company.
“I want to thank everyone who is impacted today for their meaningful contributions to their teams, to Blizzard, and to players’ lives,” Ybarra said in an interview with X. “It’s an incredibly hard day and my energy and support will be focused on all those amazing individuals impacted – this is in no way a reflection on your amazing work.”
According to an internal memo from Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer, which was first obtained by The Verge, the layoffs are part of “an execution plan with a sustainable cost structure” which identified areas of overlap after the acquisition. Microsoft confirmed the legitimacy of The Verge’s reported memo in an email to TechCrunch.
“We will provide our full support to those who are impacted during the transition, including severance benefits informed by local employment laws,” Spencer’s memo reads. “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.”
Unfortunately, this year has already proven to be brutal for the gaming industry, with multiple companies announcing layoffs. Just in the span of a few weeks, League of Legends maker Riot Games laid off 530 employees, game engine Unity laid off 1,800 people (25% of the company), Discord cut 170 jobs (17%), and Amazon-owned Twitch laid off 500 people (35%), after already having laid off hundreds of employees in two previous rounds last year.
According to game developer and consultant Rami Ismail, a staggering 5,600 gaming employees have been laid off so far in 2024. This is already more than half of all gaming layoffs from 2023.
“I just ran the numbers. With today’s Activision-Blizzard/Microsoft layoffs added, in just 25 days of 2024 we’re already at over HALFWAY to the total layoffs of ALL OF 2023 (5,600 versus 10,500),” Ismail Tweeted, accompanied by a chart with the numbers.
The rest of the tech industry has not been spared either, with companies like Google, Amazon, TikTok, and others also making cuts. However, data from 2023 shows that January is the most brutal month for layoffs in the tech industry.
In the fast-paced and ever-changing world of technology, it is clear that no company is safe from restructuring and realignment. As layoffs continue to sweep across various industries, it is essential for all of us to remember to treat our fellow colleagues with empathy and respect during these challenging times.