Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – the games don’t make themselves (Picture: Activision)
Since Microsoft hasn’t made any official announcement about it, it’s going to take a long time to find out about exactly who lost their jobs this week, when 1,900 people were laid off from Xbox Gaming, Bethesda, and Activision Blizzard.
The initial reports, from staff discussing their situation on social media, suggested that Blizzard was the hardest hit, but it seems Activision’s many different studios have also seen massive cutbacks, including all of the Call Of Duty developers.
Supposedly, Sledgehammer Games lost 30% of their staff (roughly 135 people, based on previously known staff levels), with Toys for Bob also seeing 30% of its workforce laid off (around 54 people). Mobile developer High Moon Studios lost over 10% of its workers, with Infinity Ward, Treyarch, Raven Software, Solid State Studios, Beenox, and Demonware also reportedly experiencing ‘many’ layoffs.
The obvious question here is why go to all the trouble, and $69 billion expense, of buying Activision Blizzard and then start gutting the developers, including those work on its most successful franchise?
There’s no answer to that at the moment, especially as it’s not known exactly what positions were involved. It may be that the majority are in QA (quality assurance, i.e. bug checking and testing) which seems to be something Microsoft is targeting across the board, with the intention to outsource it cheaply to another company.
A lot of community support also seems to have been affected, which again is likely to be outsourced to other companies instead, in a (probably failed) attempt to save money. Then again, they could all be programmers and artists – at the moment nobody is sure.
It all looks very bad news though and the lack of any concrete information is only going to create more unsubstantiated rumours and wild theories.
One warning sign before Thursday’s announcement was a report from Insider Gaming that Sledgehammer Games, who made last year’s Modern Warfare 3, would be asked to work from home for the rest of the year, as the studio relocates to smaller offices.
At the time, this was implied to be simply because many people prefer to work from home now, but in the context of this week’s layoffs it seems to have a very different rationale.
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