The entire game industry is still reeling from yesterday's bombshell announcement that Microsoft—hot on the heels of its $69 billion acquisition of Activision—would be laying off 1,900 employees across Activision-Blizzard and Xbox. Inevitably, Twitter is awash with reactions highlighting the human cost, both from dazed devs waking up in a world in which they no longer have jobs, and from others wondering what this all means for the months and years ahead.
The posts by former Blizzard devs are too many to count. "After years of applying," wrote former QA learning specialist Cole McElwain in a much-retweeted post, "I finally secure a job at Blizzard. I move to California and am welcomed with an incredible team. I couldn't be more excited to start…
"Four months into the job, I'm laid off. What the hell, Microsoft?"
Other devs have been left in even more precarious situations. Chiro Fujita, former senior character artist working on Blizzard's now-cancelled survival game, wrote that "Blizzard was my dream company, but sadly today I got laid off with other incredibly talented people," adding that he needed "time to process" events, but had "no time because I'm on work visa."
Bafflingly, the devs who learnt they were laid-off relatively early are the lucky ones. Per a tweet from Bloomberg's Jason Schreier, some devs found themselves reaching out to him, an unaffiliated reporter, to find out if they had kept their jobs or not amidst the chaos.
Even more devs have reflected on the sheer years of experience that have gone to waste as the layoffs cut people loose. Olivia Burk, who works at Obsidian and was not part of the Blizzard layoffs but worked at the company previously, wrote that "the projects I gave four years of my life to while working at Blizzard were cancelled, with essentially the whole team getting laid off…
"The industry really sucks sometimes. I know more people that lost jobs today than kept them."
Another laid-off dev, former principle sound designer Chris Kowalski, wrote "It was a good run. 12 years at Blizzard and just like that. Deactivated… Countless tools and audio systems. In the end the contributions didn't matter. At least I had fun and learned a ton."
Some devs were led to wonder what the games industry is even going to look like as time wears on and even more layoffs sink their teeth in. Inxile director of communications Micah Whipple wrote that he started his career in Blizzard tech support, "an entry level job helping people get D2 and StarCraft running on their PCs. That path no longer exists. Maybe… anywhere?"
The sheer brutality and nonsensical nature of the layoffs was hammered home yesterday by the concurrent headlines announcing that Microsoft—which vies with Apple for first place as most valuable company on Earth—had briefly become the second company in human history to cross a $3 trillion market cap.
The notion that a company of this staggering scale had no alternative but to cut 1,900 people free of their livelihoods was more than a little hard to swallow, and the absurdity was highlighted in a tweet from former Blizzard senior designer Jorge Murillo, who shared his last message sent in the company Slack: "Look, I'm just happy we were able to provide some value to the shareholders."