Microsoft lays off 1900 workers: Blizzard sheds Mike Ybarra, its survival game, and its customer support in one day


We’ve updated this story at the bottom with some of the latest news that has come forth about the scope of the layoffs and the cancellation of projects.

It looks as if Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick isn’t the only one being shown the door by Microsoft: The company announced in an internal memo that it will be laying off approximately 1,900 employees from the 22,000 in its gaming division, primarily affecting workers at Activision Blizzard as well as some employees at Xbox and ZeniMax, thus shedding about 8 percent of its head count.

According to the memo from Microsoft CEO Phil Spencer, the reduction is once again about cutting costs:

“As we move forward in 2024, the leadership of Microsoft Gaming and Activision Blizzard is committed to aligning on a strategy and an execution plan with a sustainable cost structure that will support the whole of our growing business. Together, we’ve set priorities, identified areas of overlap, and ensured that we’re all aligned on the best opportunities for growth.”

On the subject of leadership at ActiBlizz, it’s reported that a replacement for Kotick wasn’t named, as “a suite of Activision Blizzard executives now report up to Microsoft’s game content and studios president Matt Booty” instead. Booty’s appointment also sees him overseeing Bethesda, ZeniMax studios, and Activision Blizzard.

This is the second time in as many years that Microsoft has made recent job cuts; the last time was in January of last year, when more than 10,000 employees were laid off.

source: The Verge, thanks to MistahTea for the tip!
The originally sourced story has provided additional details, specifically announcing in another internal memo from Matt Booty that Blizzard president Mike Ybarra will be leaving the company, which he further confirmed on Twitter, along with the studio’s chief design officer Allen Adham. These leadership changes further signal the end of Blizzard’s in-development survival sandbox MMO, which we first caught wind of in 2022; Booty says that Microsoft will be “shifting some of the people working on it to one of several promising new projects Blizzard has in the early stages of development.”
The industry has been speculating about Ybarra’s departure in particular; it doesn’t appear to have been as voluntary as it initially appeared.

So it’s going about like that then.

Ybarra made a public statement too.

Apparently, Microsoft has axed almost all of Activision-Blizzard’s customer service – including GMs for its live service titles. Windows Central’s Jez Cordon reports that Microsoft has also nuked physical Xbox game divisions and large segments of community management staff; CS will apparently all be outsourced. Our own source suggests the bulk of remaining CS were based in Austin, which has now been gutted by layoffs with primarily QA and programming at Blizzard’s hub there remaining intact.

Two of the unions representing workers at Microsoft, ZeniMax, and Activision-Blizzard have weighed in. CWA says none of its members were affected by the layoffs. Members of the ZeniMax union also say they were not affected; their agreement mandates that they be warned in advance of layoffs. A Better ABK say that some of its “very active” members were affected by the layoffs.

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