Xbox users might soon notice some big changes with support for the console: Microsoft recently laid off much of its Xbox support staff and replaced it with unpaid volunteers.
This affected a group of 12 people who worked for the Xbox support Twitter account, @XboxSupport, which many Xbox users turn to when they need immediate help and answers about their systems. Although the support team technically worked as contractors for Microsoft, most of the work they did occurred in that company's offices. Now the support staff behind the Xbox support Twitter account are unpaid Xbox fans, volunteers who get paid with rewards and opportunities to win prizes.
Polygon reported on this development, noting that it spoke to two specific sources who were directly affected by the layoffs. Before the fired support staff lost their jobs, they worked closely with a group called the Xbox Ambassadors and trained that group on how to handle support requests. Those Ambassadors are now the ones responsible for the @XboxSupport Twitter account, as well as inquiries that come through an online chat. Microsoft did keep some of the original paid team on hand to manage the Ambassadors, but the company did not provide any further information about the layoffs and how that will affect its support to Xbox users.
Perhaps this move has something to do with Microsoft wanting to free up money to hire people in other Xbox departments. The company did recently begin hiring engineers for what will probably end up as the next generation of Xbox. The company also began refusing to release sales numbers several years ago for the Xbox One, perhaps suggesting that sales aren't as good as Microsoft would hope. There are also player complaints about the system's lack of exclusive games, especially when competitors Sony and Nintendo continue to release games just for their consoles.
Whatever is behind Microsoft's reasoning, Xbox support will definitely seem different after this massive change. On the one hand, an unpaid staff of volunteers who are just there because they are fans could prove more helpful than those who get paid to handle support for the system. On the other hand, though, because they aren't really paid (not counting the Xbox rewards they receive), that staff has no incentive to help players in any way, nor do they have any kind of real motivation to make themselves as available to customers in a way that a paid staff does.