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Blizzard Hit With 209 Layoffs as Part of Activision Blizzard Restructuring

More than a quarter of the roughly 800 people expected to be laid off from Activision Blizzard as part of its sweeping reorganization worked in the Blizzard side of the company, according to records obtained by Variety from California’s Employment Development Department.

Those 209 Blizzard layoffs hit in cities around the country including Califonia’s Irvine, Santa Monica, and Burbank, as well as New York City, Austin, Texas and Bloomington, Minnesota.

Blizzard employees were given 60 days of compensation and benefits, none were represented by a union, according to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filed with the state by Blizzard on Feb. 12.

The breakdown by department also noted that employees were provided a severance package, though it’s unclear if that was on top of the 60 days. The letter said that Activision Blizzard considered multiple factors when deciding who to layoff, including business needs, job skills, redundancy, job elimination, and restructuring needs.

The department that took the biggest hit by the Blizzard layoffs was IT, which lost 41 employees. Marketing and Live Experiences lost 29 employees each, followed by a global insight department. The rest of those impacted were spread across a variety of departments including publishing, quality assurance, mobile, marketing, customer service, finance, and Battle.Net. The full list of layoffs by department is at the bottom of this story.

Last month, Activision Blizzard announced it was laying off about 8% of its workforce of about 9,900 as it refocuses its efforts on core properties like Call of Duty, Overwatch, Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Diablo.

The rest of layoffs are spread across the company’s different divisions, some of which have not yet been reported. Shortly after the announcement, King-Owned mobile game studio Z2Live was shut down, resulting in the loss of 78 jobs. King is also shuttering its San Francisco studio. The company also laid a dozen people off from developer Vicarious Visions. Internationally, there are reports that 15 people were let go from Activision’s Mexico City offices and that Blizzard’s Versailles office in France will be losing 134 people.

Activision called the mass layoffs a de-prioritizing of initiatives that didn’t meet expectations. CEO Bobby Kotick said that the cuts would come from support staff while the company consolidates its commercial operations and reorganizes its marketing initiatives. Activision will be instead investing more in live services, Battle.net, eSports, and advertising efforts.

The company added it would be increasing development resources by 20 percent in 2019 on those franchises it is now focusing on. “The company will fund this greater investment by de-prioritizing initiatives that are not meeting expectations and reducing certain non-development and administrative-related costs across the business,” the publisher said in its earnings release.”

Reached for comment this week, Activision Blizzard declined to comment directly on the WARN letter or detail where the rest of the cuts will be made, instead it reshared a statement it released in February.

“While we performed well in these some areas of our business in 2018, and continued to make progress in mobile, advertising, and esports, we ultimately did not meet our own, nor our communities’, expectations for content delivery and growth,” the spokesperson said. “As a result, we’re taking important steps to reinforce our foundation for future growth. We’re increasing our investment in game development across our biggest franchises, mobile and geographic expansion, as well as in adjacent opportunities with demonstrated potential, like esports and advertising. Over the course of 2019, we plan to increase the number of developers working on our key franchises by approximately 20%, ultimately allowing us to put even more content into the hands of existing and new fans around the world.

“To fund this investment, we are de-prioritizing initiatives that are not meeting our expectations. We are also bringing together our regional sales, partnerships, and sponsorships capabilities enabling us to better leverage our talent, expertise and scale.

“We’re confident in our plan and the leadership teams in place who will navigate us through this time of change. These actions will allow us to return to the franchise focus that has fueled our long-term success so that we can bring the most epic entertainment to our players around the world.”

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