The Esports Advocate can confirm that “less than 50 employees” were laid off at Activision Blizzard’s esports division this week and those affected primarily worked across both the company’s franchised esports leagues.
The layoffs were spread across both franchised leagues that Activision Blizzard operates, the Overwatch League (OWL) and Call of Duty League (CDL). A spokesperson for Activision Blizzard confirmed the layoffs via a statement to TEA Wednesday morning:
“We remain committed to the future of esports, and we regularly assess how our staffing aligns with our business goals to ensure we can evolve with changing trends and best deliver for our teams, players, and fans. As always, supporting our employees through transition is our top priority,” the spokesperson said.
This round of layoffs follows news found in Activision Blizzard’s Q2 2003 financial results (released Wednesday) that big changes are coming to the Overwatch League when the 2023 season ends. According to a paragraph in the earnings report, during the second quarter, the company amended the terms of its agreement with teams and team owners will have the opportunity to vote on these changes in the “updated operating agreement” following the end of the current OWL season. If they decide not to continue under these new terms, teams will be paid a termination fee of $6M USD (if all teams were to opt for the payout, the total fee would be approximately $114 million).
Activision Blizzard did not detail publicly what changes have been made to the operating agreement. The company also did not disclose what changes, if any, are being made to Call of Duty League for the next season.
A spokesperson for the company issued the following statement on the future of its esports operations: “We remain committed to a competitive ecosystem in 2024 and beyond and are exploring a variety of options that prioritize players and fans with a revitalized global scene.”
Activision Blizzard did not provide a specific date on when OWL team owners will vote on the changes, noting only that it will take place some time after the 2023 season ends.
Interestingly enough, Sean Miller, director, head of Overwatch League at Activision Blizzard Esports, told The Verge on Wednesday that Activision Blizzard is working on a league that “prioritizes players and fans” (read into that what you will):
“I want to be clear on one thing in particular, that Overwatch remains committed to a competitive ecosystem in 2024 and beyond,” Miller said. “And we’re building toward a revitalized global scene that prioritizes players and fans.”
This is a developing story….