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Microsoft has announced that it is cutting a massive 1,900 jobs across its video games unit. Xbox boss Phil Spencer said in a message sent to staff and sighted by IGN that Microsoft will fully support those impacted by the layoffs through severance benefits according to local employment laws.

Tempers And Accusations Flare As Microsoft Slashes 1,900 Jobs Across Xbox, Activision Blizzard, And Bethesda

“It’s been a little over three months since the Activision, Blizzard, and King teams joined Microsoft,” read the memo sent to staff. “Together, we’ve set priorities, identified areas of overlap, and ensured that we’re all aligned on the best opportunities for growth.”

“As part of this process, we have made the painful decision to reduce the size of our gaming workforce by approximately 1,900 roles of the 22,000 people on our team. The Gaming Leadership Team and I are committed to navigating this process as thoughtfully as possible.”

Microsoft’s previous round of layoffs happened around this time last year and partially affected the gaming division. At that time, the tech giant which is currently worth over $3 trillion—the second company in history to break the threshold—announced that it was laying off around 10,000 employees or 4.5% of its total workforce.

“Looking ahead, we’ll continue to invest in areas that will grow our business and support our strategy of bringing more games to more players around the world,” Spencer wrote. “Although this is a difficult moment for our team, I’m as confident as ever in your ability to create and nurture the games, stories, and worlds that bring players together.”

Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier wrote on X that, “People at the impacted companies tell me that as of right now, they don’t know who are losing their jobs”. In other words, it was not immediately clear the departments that were impacted.

Microsoft’s changes will see Blizzard’s President exit the company

Tempers And Accusations Flare As Microsoft Slashes 1,900 Jobs Across Xbox, Activision Blizzard, And Bethesda

Mike Ybarra at Blizzcon 2023

In addition to the layoff news, Blizzard president Mike Ybarra also announced that he was exiting the company. Blizzard’s chief design officer Allen Adham will be stepping aside with him. It was also reported that the previously announced survival game—Odyssey—which was spearheaded by Dan Hay (former Far Cry boss) has also been canceled. The game has been in development for over 6 years.

“I want to thank everyone who is impacted today for their meaningful contributions to their teams, to Blizzard, and to players’ lives,” Ybarra wrote in a lengthy post on X. “It’s an incredibly hard day and my energy and support will be focused on all those amazing individuals impacted—this is no way a reflection on your amazing work.”

“To the Blizzard community: I also want to let you all know today is my last day at Blizzard. Leading Blizzard through an incredible time and being part of the team, shaping it for the future ahead, was an absolute honor. Having already spent 20+ years at Microsoft and with the acquisition of Activision Blizzard behind us, it’s time for me to (once again) become Blizzard’s biggest fan from the outside.”

Tempers And Accusations Flare As Microsoft Slashes 1,900 Jobs Across Xbox, Activision Blizzard, And Bethesda

Ybarra’s sudden departure sparked some controversy yesterday. Schreier claimed that Ybarra personally told him at BlizzCon in November last year that, “Someone will drag me out of Blizzard. That’s how long I will be here”. However, in the latest announcement, Microsoft’s Matt Booty claimed Ybarra voluntarily left the company.

The popular opinion which Windows Central’s Jez also believes was that Ybarra was ousted from the company rather than willingly stepping aside. An anonymous source told IGN that Microsoft’s gaming teams had previously suffered marketing budget cuts before the layoffs.

Layoffs in the gaming industry have not slowed down. Last year an estimated 10,000 people lost their jobs in the industry. However, it’s just in January and over 5,000 job losses have already been announced this year. Several factors have been blamed for video game layoffs including corporate greed and increased AI adoption.

A devastating day for those impacted by the layoffs

Tempers And Accusations Flare As Microsoft Slashes 1,900 Jobs Across Xbox, Activision Blizzard, And Bethesda

Phil Spenser

As the day wound down, the scope and impact of the layoffs at Microsoft is becoming increasingly clear. Many of those who were affected have been pouring out their feelings across different social media platforms.

Lady Devann who was previously a Twitch streamer before working as a community manager at Bethesda was one of those impacted. On X she wrote, “Just got the news that unfortunately, I was one of the positions laid off… I can’t breathe. I love my coworkers and community so much this hurts more than I can describe.”

GameBaba Universe also spotted a couple of posts made by people impacted by the layoffs on LinkedIn. Senior animator Raina Kaur wrote, “Hello everyone! – I am sad to announce I was recently impacted by the company layoffs at Blizzard/Microsoft. I am looking for a new role and would appreciate your support. Thank you in advance for any connections, advice, or opportunities you can offer.”

Gen Li who worked as an environment artist announced that he was affected by the recent layoffs at Microsoft and was looking for new opportunities. However, he also took out time to appreciate some of his previous colleagues and wished everyone affected the best of luck.

“Unfortunately, I was impacted by the Microsoft/Activision layoffs today,” wrote Kevin De Angeli who worked as a data scientist at Activision. “I really enjoyed my work and loved my team. it’s a sad day. I’ll be looking for new opportunities in Data Science and Machine Learning. Please share it with your network and reach out about any opportunities.”

GameBaba Universe has included a link to the profile of everyone mentioned in this post so that anyone with an opportunity that fits their role can easily reach them. Our heart goes out to all those impacted by the layoffs and hope they will find a worthy placement in no distant future.

Emecheta Christian

Emecheta Christian is an avid gamer with over 5 years in the industry. He is also a poet. It is therefore not surprising that his post sometimes read like poetry.


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