As rumored but never mentioned directly to those affected until the business day's end, Activision Blizzard begins its mass layoffs today in a move that will leave about 800 employees jobless. However, thanks to the massive producer's noble sacrifice of those hundreds whose work was deemed nonessential, Activision Blizzard is reporting its highest revenue figures in company history.
As predicted by various outlets earlier this week, Activision Blizzard dropped the axe on the largely unsuspecting victims of today's long-rumored layoffs. Forecast since the end of 2018, an earnings call between Activision Blizzard executives and shareholders today confirmed what was entirely unknown to many staff members and almost certainly an unending nightmare hanging over the heads of those who caught wind of the bad news by word of mouth. Of course, no one knew better of the coming mass firings than the executive board of Activision Blizzard, itself, but even in the face of high-profile departures of key players and clear evidence of shareholder enmity following the loss of Bungie's Destiny they were too busy handing out $15 million to the company's newest CFO.
That conference call with investors, during which Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick proudly proclaimed the company's 2018 financial outcome to be "the best in [their] history," was the formal announcement of 8 percent of the company staff's collective termination. The call, and its accompanying Q4 earnings report, leaves an approximate 800 employees in "non-development roles" to fend for themselves while Activision Blizzard boorishly pivots to more intensely focus its capital and human resources on major franchises like Call of Duty and Overwatch. The internet hasn't wasted any time slamming Kotick in meme form, one of which can be seen below.
It bears repeating that the most upsetting thing about this entire affair is Activision Blizzard's borderline-negligent refusal to give employees facing the chopping block the slightest of warnings, with many of those hit by these layoffs only having learned today that their jobs were even in danger. An internal letter from Blizzard president J. Allen Brack that circulated among his staff was brought to light by Kotaku, reading:
"Over the last few years, many of our non-development teams expanded to support various needs. Currently staffing levels on some teams are out of proportion with our current release slate. This means we need to scale down some areas of our organization. I’m sorry to share that we will be parting ways with some of our colleagues in the U.S. today. In our regional offices, we anticipate similar evaluations, subject to local requirements.”
A slightly less lukewarm version of that letter was issued by Brack as a Blizzard press release, explaining that staff members being let go would be given "additional pay, benefits continuation, and career and recruiting support" as part of their severance. It can be safely assumed that laid off employees on the Activision side of things are receiving similar (if not identical) severance packages to "help them find their next opportunity," but by no measure does that excuse Activion Blizzard's near-total lack of notice prior to sacking hundreds of highly talented professionals whom the company owes for its most successful year on record.