Activision Blizzard has fired less than two percent of its total workforce, or around 190 employees, according to Sports Business Journal and Bloomberg. The layoffs include 50 employees who handled esports programming and other live events, as well as personnel from King, the Candy Crush developer Activision purchased in 2016 for $5.9 billion. As the publications note, the layoffs are a cost-saving measure as the company moves away from live events due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A company spokesperson told them:
“Players are increasingly choosing to connect with our games digitally and the e-sports team, much like traditional sports, entertainment and broadcasting industries, has had to adapt its business due to the impact the pandemic has had on live events.”
Activision Blizzard’s esports group runs the Overwatch League and the Call of Duty League, which used to bring games to teams’ fans through a homestand model. However, all its homestand games, like most live events across industries, were cancelled last year due to the pandemic. The company had to switch to an online-only format for the rest of the Leagues’ season. Tony Petitti, Activision Blizzard’s President of Sports & Entertainment, told SBJ that that company isn’t moving away from live events completely, though, and that it will try to host them again when it becomes possible.
A spokesperson said dismissed employees in the US will receive 90 days severance and health benefits for a year, as well as “job transition support” and $200 worth of gift cards to Battle.net.