People in the video game industry are rallying around the 800 employees laid off by Activision Blizzard
- Activision-Blizzard laid off approximately 800 employees on Tuesday, February 12th, the same day the company announced it set a record for revenue during 2018.
- Despite news of the layoffs leaking five days before the official announcement, Blizzard employees have said they weren't given any information on the pending layoffs before they were announced.
- From the initial leak to the days after the layoffs, people within the video game industry have worked to build a support network for the hundreds of former Activision-Blizzard employees, some of whom had been with the company for more than a decade.
Major video game publisher Activision Blizzard laid off about 800 workers earlier this week, sending shock waves through the gaming industry. In the days following the layoffs, people within the industry responded by building a support network filled with job listings, personal recommendations, and messages of support for former Blizzard employees in need of new opportunities.
News of the impending layoffs were first reported by Bloomberg on February 7th, and a source familiar with the matter told Business Insider that employees were left without information for days. Kotaku and Yahoo Finance also published reports based on conversations with Blizzard employees who confirmed the lack of communication as word spread within the company to expect upcoming cuts.With the layoffs looming, game developers from across the industry began to offer their condolences and commented on the stress and volatility of the video game industry.
Activision Blizzard made the layoffs official on Tuesday, February 12, the same day it reported record revenue and earnings per share for both the fourth quarter of 2018 and the year. Despite the record numbers, the company fell short of Wall Street's expectations for revenue and gave disappointing guidance. As the news broke, many across the video game industry criticized Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick for boasting about Activision's record revenues as hundreds of people were laid off with no advanced notice.
The layoffs accounted for about 8% of the company's total staff and primarily impacted Blizzard employees in the public relations, marketing, and esports divisions. Activision Blizzard also closed a number of its remote offices, including the Seattle and San Francisco studios of "Candy Crush" developer King Games. Blizzard CEO J Allen Brack said the company will shift its resources to increase its game development staff by about 20%, which will help produce new content faster.
"To fund this investment, we are de-prioritizing initiatives that are not meeting our expectations and reducing certain non-development administrative expenses across the company," Brack said in a memo sent to employees, obtained by Business Insider. "We are also bringing together our regional sales, partnerships, and sponsorships capabilities enabling us to better leverage our talent, expertise and scale."
The layoffs included employees who had been with the company for more than 10 years, and community managers who helped define the culture of Blizzard's massively popular games. While Blizzard said the layoffs were a step toward hiring more developers, people within the industry argued that marketing, esports, and public relations also contribute to the development of games.As former Blizzard employees revealed that they would be moving on, reactions on social media ranged from appreciation to anger.
The unexpected nature of the layoffs also led to unexpected problems for at least one former Blizzard employee, who revealed that he needed a new job within 60 days to avoid being deported. After asking for help on Twitter, his message was retweeted more 7,000 times.
With hundreds of workers suddenly facing hardship, others within the video game industry quickly mobilized to share potential job openings and opportunities.
While video game publishers like Activision earn billions of dollars each year, video games are still a relatively young industry with regular waves of volatility. As employees become more vocal about the pressure they face across the industry, some voices are encouraging game developers to unionize in order to avoid the sort of massive layoffs executed by Activision Blizzard.
Game studios are few and far between. When a game studio has mass layoffs most devs who got laid off will likely have to move cross country or even to a different continent if they want to work in AAA again. To top it off many studios are located in super expensive cities- ️Subsurface Scatterbrained GDC (@KatNicoleB) February 10, 2019
Activision Blizzard boasting about how much money its making in its earnings call, literally more than the company ever has before, while simultaneously laying off hundreds of employees is shameful.- Rod Breslau (@Slasher) February 12, 2019
God dammit. The industry can be so damned...ruthless.- Cliff Bleszinski (@therealcliffyb) February 12, 2019
(And Bobby Kotick keeps getting multi million dollar bonuses.)
It's not easy at the top, I get it, but still... makes me sad. https://t.co/bwbn2CRncq
Anyone who contributes to the making of a game in any way is a game developer. Marketing contributes to the making of a game. So does Community, QA, HR, BizDev, etc.- Jen MacLean (@jenmacl) February 14, 2019
People who pull the "you're not a REAL game dev" crap baffle me. Why split the party? https://t.co/crWWSNrXQt
It's people like you that inspired me to come to Blizzard @ChrisMetzen. Thank you. You led me to here, and the love for creating is going to lead me to a new home.- Caden of the House House, First of his Name (@CadenHouse) February 13, 2019
We're having a hard day today, but what will never be lost is the passion that @Blizzard_Ent instilled in us. https://t.co/Vtb3SPQ2sQ
Here's a cap of some r/wow comments in response to the most prominent community manager being laid off.- Zarishuzza (@Zarishuzza) February 13, 2019
This is what your community thinks of you right now, @Blizzard_Ent, and it doesn't look like you have any intention of fixing it, because hey, money. pic.twitter.com/pOMSHKxso3
THANK YOU ALL - I am beyond amazed by how everyone has come together to give a hand. You guys really have no idea how much each RT/like/comment helps. It's very heartwarming in such a cold day. Truly appreciate every single one of you. <3 The internet and gaming are magical.- Eriberto Garcia (@Eri_gc) February 13, 2019
Climbing out of my hermit hole to say Amazon is hiring (including my own social team if you want to get into entertainment): https://t.co/N5iDiVB8Aa- Cindy Tang (@girlparts) February 12, 2019
Seems like marketing and PR are getting hit hard amongst the Activision Blizzard layoffs. DM me for a referral.
My heart goes out to all the folks impacted by the Activision / Blizzard layoffs today. If you're a content creator effected by today's situation please hit up my DMs because we're always looking some hardworking creative folks.- Mike Aransky (@MikeAransky) February 13, 2019
Laid off from Blizzard? Want to work on important national security problems? Anduril is less than 10 minutes away, come say hi! https://t.co/us6Qz0I20M- Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) February 15, 2019
Also, want to highlight this great point from @jasonschreier in the comments on that article. Unions don't prevent layoffs but they do give workers a seat at the table, changing the equation as to whether it's worth it to layoff 800 people in a year of record profits. pic.twitter.com/zYZFiIQan4- very cute dog haver (@pedrothedagger) February 13, 2019