Yesterday’s Microsoft layoffs were just as bad as anticipated – 10,000 jobs slashed in one day – and it gets worse for gamers, as apparently a sizable chunk of those let go were from Microsoft’s game studios, including Bethesda.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told workers this figure “represents less than 5 percent of [the company’s] total employee base” and that the company will “continue to hire in key strategic areas.” The company also promises significant benefits to those let go, in accordance with the law, including healthcare and stock vesting for the next half year.
According to Bloomberg, teams at 343 Industries and Bethesda were both hit. 343 operates the struggling Halo Infinite, while Bethsoft is part of the larger ZeniMax umbrella that shelters Fallout 76 and ZeniMax Online Studios’ Elder Scrolls Online. 343’s creative director role is among those being eliminated, which doesn’t bode well for the game and the rest of its team, whose single-player campaign side was reportedly hit hard with as many as 60 layoffs (but he’ll be moved to Xbox).
Elder Scrolls Online itself did lose workers, including a community manager, though we don’t yet know how many. (PR across Bethsoft appears to have been hit as well.) We’ll update as we learn more about the individuals and MMO teams affected.
I was just laid off today as part of the Microsoft changes.
To my #ESOFam, I'll still be cheering for all of you and the Global Reveal. I loved working with all of you and I'll miss you all so much 💔🦎
— 🌟Sam Luangkhot (@flarechess) January 18, 2023
As Luangkhot alludes to, Bethsoft is planning multiple big reveals next week, including the annual reveal for The Elder Scrolls Online.
We note again here that Microsoft is still in the process of purchasing Activision-Blizzard for a grand total of $68B.
Social media is awash with people and studios reaching out trying to place affected workers, including ArenaNet and Bungie.
“Yesterday’s announcement that Microsoft will be laying off more than 10,000 workers, like similar recent announcements at other companies, highlights the growing need for tech workers to organize and lock in meaningful worker protections. Representatives from CWA have been in touch with Microsoft, and the company recognizes its obligation to bargain over any proposed layoffs of CWA members at ZeniMax. Members of the ZeniMax worker bargaining committee will be developing proposals that reflect their needs and provide alternatives to layoffs. Working with Microsoft over the past year we have developed a blueprint for companies that want to take the high road when workers choose to form unions. We are optimistic that the collective bargaining process at ZeniMax will provide a similar opportunity to chart a new path in tech, with innovative, worker-developed alternatives to the boom-bust cycle of layoffs in the tech industry that have had devastating consequences for tens of thousands of tech workers and their families.” [Emphasis ours.]