Activision Blizzard is one of the most successful, if not the most successful entertainment corporations in the world. They’ve regularly taken in an insane amount of revenue in each financial review, and the most recent one is no exception. Unfortunately, the corporation is also no stranger to controversies, especially when it comes to the overall financial treatment of their employees. According to both Bloomberg and Sports Business Journal have reported that Activision Blizzard has laid off roughly 50 people, all of which are from their esports and live events division.
Activision Blizzard is laying off 50 employees in the esports division today, with top executive Tony Petitti stating its to plan for the future where the company is less dependent on live events, including both CDL and OWL https://t.co/olE1J9QCva pic.twitter.com/xPN3rpdInW
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) March 16, 2021
In a statement made specifically to Bloomberg, Activision Blizzard says that “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.” In short, the company more than likely doesn’t see a whole lot of profit coming from in-person events, because of the obvious COVID-19 Pandemic that has ravaged the gaming industry for the past year. While this makes sense in the long run, anytime employees lose their job for the sake of cutting costs is always an unfortunate situation.
Speaking of those live events, despite these layoffs, the company isn’t giving up on them just yet. Speaking specifically to Sports Business Journal, the Activision Blizzard President of Sports & Entertainment, Tony Petitti, stated that “In terms of timing, it’s a reaction to the realities of how the leagues are playing and what resources we need to allocate to best serve the league, owners, teams, and fans.” This was further clarified by a statement made to Gamesindustrybiz, “Live events are still very much a part of both the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League strategies. We plan to get back to them as soon as it’s safe to do so and logistically feasible.”
Either way you attempt to extrapolate this, it sounds like Activision Blizzard is more or less putting a slight brake on in-person events and moving more toward a potentially long-term digital-only competition for their gaming leagues. If the COVID-19 Pandemic is eventually curved and it becomes safe for more people to congregate in the like, then it’s possible that we will see more live events for the Overwatch League, and the Call of Duty League. There’s also a likelihood that we’ll see an in-person BlizzCon at some point again. BlizzConline took place digitally last month.
As for the 50 employees who lost their jobs, it’s a terrible situation, especially during a pandemic. Bloomberg states that while they are now unemployed, Activision Blizzard will be offering them 90 days of severance pay and health benefits for up to a year. In addition, Bloomberg also mentioned that they’ll also be given $200 to use on Battle.net, which is the corporation’s PC platform launcher.