Activision-Blizzard has laid off another 190 employees as Kotick could rake in an extra $200M


Don’t look now, but Activision-Blizzard just laid off another batch of people.

According to a Bloomberg report, the company has slashed just under 190 jobs, 50 of them relating to esports and live events (this seems to be the reason for some sites reporting 50 layoffs and some reporting under 2%/under 190, but Bloomberg’s piece makes clear the firings came from multiple departments, more than just the 50 in esports). Cut staff will get 90 days of severance, a year of continuing health benefits, and “$200 gift cards to”

Activision-Blizzard infamously laid off over 800 employees at the end of 2019, just after posting a record-high quarterly financial gain. Last year, it also shuttered its Versailles office and cut back staff in Oceania, laying off a total of several hundred more. Last year, execs said the company plans to hire an additional 2000 workers over the next few years “to meet its production demands.” During February’s investor call, that number rose to 3000.

According to Sports Business Journal, the layoffs in the esports division reflect what Blizzard learned during the COVID pandemic in regard to live esports. “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,” Activision Blizzard President of Sports & Entertainment Tony Petitti told the publication.

Incidentally, Bobby Kotick could score up to an extra $200M in payouts thanks to the side-eyes-worthy Shareholder Value Creation Incentive clause in his contract, according to CtW, the firm representing shareholders. This is one of the ongoing financial disparities within Acti-Blizz that multiple investment groups have been agitating against over the last year.

Source: Bloomberg via GIbiz. Thanks, Bruno!
Update May 4, 2021
Activision-Blizzard has pointed out to us that the Gamespot article, which we’d used as a source for the Kotick $200M figure, has since been deleted. However, the same information can be found on Kotaku, GIbiz, PC Gamer, Wowhead, IGN, Dotesports, Yahoo, Invenglobal, and many other websites. But it does appear that the original Gamespot article that we and many of these websites sourced on March 16th was altered by March 17th to newly attribute the $200M figure itself to the investor advisory group, CtW, which as far as we can tell maintained that it was merely a potential top number. Bizarrely, if you Google for “No, Bobby Kotick didn’t get a $200 million bonus payout,” you’ll bumble into a slew of identical counternarrative articles claiming that the real payout would be more like a quarter of that as based on SEC filings a week after the original story. (This still would’ve made the same headlines and resulted in the same PR fiasco.) In any case, we’re amending our article for accuracy pending the actual payout, which still hasn’t actually happened. Since the original article, of course, Kotick’s future earnings have been reduced by Acti-Blizz and the Shareholder Value Creation Incentive clause itself has been removed.
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