Microsoft will cut approximately 1,900 employees, or 8% of its global workforce, at Activision Blizzard and Xbox this week, according to a report in The Verge. The layoffs will primarily impact Activision Blizzard, but The Verge notes in its reporting that some employees in Microsoft’s Xbox and ZeniMax divisions will be impacted. Microsoft’s gaming division currently stands at approximately 22,000 employees.
The layoffs follow Microsoft’s successful $68.7B USD acquisition of Activision Blizzard in October.
The report is based in part on an internal memo sent to staff this week from Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer. An excerpt from that memo published by The Verge:
“As part of this process, we have made the painful decision to reduce the size of our gaming workforce by approximately 1900 roles out of the 22,000 people on our team. The Gaming Leadership Team and I are committed to navigating this process as thoughtfully as possible. The people who are directly impacted by these reductions have all played an important part in the success of Activision Blizzard, ZeniMax and the Xbox teams, and they should be proud of everything they’ve accomplished here. We are grateful for all of the creativity, passion and dedication they have brought to our games, our players and our colleagues. We will provide our full support to those who are impacted during the transition, including severance benefits informed by local employment laws. Those whose roles will be impacted will be notified, and we ask that you please treat your departing colleagues with the respect and compassion that is consistent with our values.”
On a related note, it was also revealed that Blizzard President Mike Ybarra and Blizzard Chief Design Officer Allen Adham will be leaving the company, and the previously announced survival game being developed at the company has been canceled. These announcements were made by Microsoft Game Content and Studios President Matt Booty in another internal memo to staff.
Ybarra made a public statement on social media Thursday about leaving the company:
I want to thank everyone who is impacted today for their meaningful contributions to their teams, to Blizzard, and to players’ lives. It’s an incredibly hard day and my energy and support will be focused on all those amazing individuals impacted – this is in no way a reflection…
— Mike Ybarra 🎄 (@Qwik) January 25, 2024
Layoffs in the gaming sector continue to mount in 2024, with the number of total job cuts across the industry surpassing 5,000—nearly half of the total layoffs that occurred in 2023. That doesn’t include layoffs in esports, the technology sector, and other industries that have made sharp reductions in their workforces to start out the new year.
News of these layoffs at Microsoft come on the heels of League of Legends and Valorant maker Riot Games announcing earlier this week that it will lay off 530 employees, or 11% of its global workforce.