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Microsoft reportedly cuts 2,000 jobs one week after becoming world’s most valuable company Dot Esports

The growing spate of video game industry layoffs just worsened, as Microsoft has reportedly cut roughly 1,900 jobs across its studios, with Activision Blizzard in particular being affected.

This is according to an internal memo sent to employees by Xbox boss Phil Spencer, one seen and shared by IGN and The Verge. In typical fashion, Spencer expressed condolences for this “painful decision” and promised “full support to those who are impacted during the transition, including severance benefits informed by local employment laws.”

This month has been awful for games industry layoffs. Image via Blizzard Entertainment

While The Verge says it’s primarily workers within Activision Blizzard being let go, the job cuts also extends to teams at Xbox and ZeniMax Media. As Microsoft’s gaming workforce consists of about 22,000 people, these losses account for roughly eight or nine percent of employees.

Blizzard Entertainment president Mike Ybarra is also departing from the company, though it sounds like it’s of his own volition. In a Jan. 25 statement on X, formerly Twitter, he too shared his sympathies for the affected employees and offered assistance should any of them need it.

As for what Ybarra intends to do next, whether he’ll join another company or retire entirely, he didn’t say: “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.”

Microsoft isn’t the only company to issue layoffs this year. Almost every day this month, there has been news of companies slashing their work forces. Not just games studios, but the likes of Twitch and Discord, too. It’s an issue that began last year and sadly only continues into 2024, and it’s unlikely to stop any time soon.

That said, there’s something particularly awful about seeing a company like Microsoft issue layoffs. It had already fired roughly 10,000 employees around the same time last year, and this new round comes just months after it spent a staggering $69 billion to acquire Activision Blizzard, and apparently gave at least another $15 million to Activision Blizzard’s now former CEO Bobby Kotick as a “golden parachute” (according to Polygon). Just last week, Microsoft overtook Apple to become the most valuable company in the world, with a market cap of $2.89 trillion (according to VGC).

The games industry in general is in dire straits given all the job losses in January alone. According to industry analyst Daniel Ahmad on X, there have already been 5,900 layoffs across the industry in 2024, which is nearly 60% of the total job losses in 2023.

Michael Beckwith

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