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Posted by Alex

In a surprising statement released today, Blizzard has announced that 600 jobs within the company's infrastructure have been eliminated. According to the statement, 90% of those jobs were positions not directly tied to the development of the company's games.

Reportedly, the World of Warcraft development team is wholly unaffected by these layoffs.

Where, exactly, those jobs come from then is not entirely clear. Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime is quoted in the release as saying "as Blizzard and the industry have evolved we've also had to make some difficult decisions in order to address the changing needs of our company," but makes no mention of what portions of the company's infrastructure will be affected by these layoffs. In fact, the only specific mention the release makes is that the World of Warcraft team is entirely unaffected by it.

The release also mentions that Blizzard's upcoming publishing schedule won't be affected by these layoffs, which is good news for those eagerly awaiting the publisher's next Diablo III delay announcement.

Still, with such an emphasis on the fact that so few of these jobs are directly tied to development, one can't help but wonder where, precisely, these cuts are coming from. Vox Games cites a source claiming that most of it came from the company's customer service department, which seems plausible. Still, Blizzard isn't saying one way or the other.

Regardless of who specifically was affected, we wish the best of luck to all those hit by the layoffs.

Posted by Brendan

Sucks to hear about people going through a transitional phase in their careers like this.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

That's unfortunate.

Posted by StealthRaptor

That is a big number.

Posted by stinky

the verge is saying its most likely customer service.

Posted by adoggz

maybe they are getting rid of marketers and whatnot that they can rely on activison for?

Posted by MysteriousFawx

Any chance it could be related to all the extra products that have shipped in recent years? Trading cards, plushies, board games? Theres got to be like 1000 people working for their marketing department alone.

Posted by Little_Socrates

My first thought was that they fired the Diablo III asset production team as they're probably not producing a ton of new assets for any game for a while now. But with that 90% not directly involved in development...well, that could be double-speak referring to the idea that they're not working on anything RIGHT NOW, or it could be legitimate. If that's the case, it's gotta be some form of business structure and online management stuff, right? Are they responsible for their own numbers, their own advertising, forum administration, etc.?

Edited by Uberdubie

The video game company Blizzard lays off 600 people and claim it won't even slightly put a damper on their game production? I'm not buying that for a second.

Blizzard has everything to lose if they admit these drastic cuts will affect the quality of their games. Of course they're going to lie.

Posted by Flaime
Posted by Sweep

So if it's not from WoW then 60 people just got dropped from Diablo 3 and SC2?

It's worth noting that Blizzard is almost permanently hiring customer support + community management staff in Europe, as well. Obviously that's not much consolation for the people losing their jobs, but I wouldn't read into this as any sort of decline in Blizzard's profits.

Moderator
Posted by Jimbo

Probably PR, now that EA's kindly decided to do it all for them gratis.

Posted by DiGiTaL_SiN

I hope José Roberto Colayco (aka Bob) is doing alright...

Posted by Valdez

Alex, I just want to say I appreciate that you used "presents the question" rather than incorrectly using "begs the question."

I freakin' when people do that.

Posted by UltimAXE

I would have just assumed that all of the layoffs came from WoW support. I'd imagine that they don't need as huge a team of customer service and whatever else now that the game is on a decline.

Posted by AiurFlux

which is good news for those eagerly awaiting the publisher's next Diablo III delay announcement

Goddamit I love you Alex.

Posted by Jellybones

We're not making quite as obscenely large profits as 2010? FIRE.EVERONE.

Posted by Chris2KLee

Yeah customer service, and maybe testing are probably whose getting the axe. It's a lot of people out of work, and I hope it doesn't take them long to get back on their feet.

Posted by akzo

Blizzard has been flush with money the past several years. When that happens there is a tendency to say "yes" to every head count request. I'm guessing now that they are facing actual challenges they need to tighten their belt. I don't think there is going to Be a Blizzcon this year, so a good number of these layoffs could be associated with that. Good Luck to those let go.

Posted by BakingPanda

Now that most games are doing private and public beta testing I wouldn't be too surprised if this was the product testing departments. Although, it is really sad to hear that 600 people lost their jobs and Blizzard. I bet that was a sweet gig.

Posted by punkxblaze

Everyone not making WoW. That's who.

Posted by Zaxex

Doesn't this mean they've messed up at some point? How do you have 600 too many employees? It doesn't speak well for the industry when Blizzard isn't a safe bet.

Edited by Octaslash

It would really suck if their costumer service took a hit, because from my experience, it's really good right now. In that respect, they really shine in comparison to other companies that put out MMOs.

Posted by buckybit

Good for Blizzard! Watch the D.I.C.E. video with Frank Pearce, Mike Capps & Ted Price from earlier this year (on Gamespot). Blizzard is waaay too big! Letting people go, when they have to (probably already 12 months later then they should have) is a healthy thing for a BIG company.

They still have literally 1000s of community-managers & online-support staff.

No good designer or programmer is leaving the mothership. Be assured.

Posted by Bwast

@akzo said:

Blizzard has been flush with money the past several years. When that happens there is a tendency to say "yes" to every head count request. I'm guessing now that they are facing actual challenges they need to tighten their belt. I don't think there is going to Be a Blizzcon this year, so a good number of these layoffs could be associated with that. Good Luck to those let go.

They've already said there won't be one this year since all their time is being spent on Heart of the Swarm, Diablo 3 and that new WoW expansion. I don't think the layoffs have anything to do with that, I'm sure they just outsource the logistics for that. Would be pretty insane if a game developer kept people on staff year round for a once a year convention.

If I had to guess, customer service. WoW's numbers have been falling for a while so maybe they don't need that many people anymore. Who knows. Blizzard will look pretty good on those people's resumes though if they look for another game industry job.

Posted by timmbot

Customer Service is totally plausible, since a lot of things that once needed someone on the other end, is completely automated now. Even still, with 600 ppl prior, it still took them a week to answer your in-game petitions...

Posted by Jack_Lafayette
@Alex said:

The release also mentions that Blizzard's upcoming publishing schedule won't be affected by these layoffs, which is good news for those eagerly awaiting the publisher's next Diablo III delay announcement.

Thanks for making me laugh in an article about layoffs, Alex. Now how do I pretend I'm not an asshole?
Posted by GlenTennis

Diablo III doesn't exist.

Posted by falling_fast

maybe now with the merger they don't need these people. dunno.

Posted by astonish

@Sweep: Don't forget about "Titan". 60 people from Titan, SC2 and D3 teams combined. Thats probably not that bad.

Posted by DrDarkStryfe

Always rough to hear about jobs being lost. Especially from a company that has seen amazimg profits over the last few years and still. Just another example of a company making money by not spending it.

Posted by joefromdayton

There are a lot of infrastructure jobs that unfortunately can be outsourced to managed services (system/backup administration, etc., etc.).

Posted by totallybananass

cut from PR? i mean if you haven't heard of that game by now, it's probably not for you

Posted by Lazyaza

Isn't WoW known for having 100s and 100s of tech support staff? they probably just fired a bunch of those.

Edited by Adamsons
@timmbot said:

Customer Service is totally plausible, since a lot of things that once needed someone on the other end, is completely automated now. Even still, with 600 ppl prior, it still took them a week to answer your in-game petitions...

A week, wtf? The most I ever experienced was a day. That was to get gear refunded though, I dont know if theyre rated on importance. Edit - this is in EU.
 
Support is probably likely, i remember reading they had 2500+ wow support alone.
 
Edit - http://www.thegamereviews.com/article-1515-World-of-Warcraft-by-the-Numbers.html 
 

Now, the company has:

  • 4,600+ – Employees worldwide

From 09.

Posted by Tennmuerti

Blizzard employs an insane number of people for custommer/tech support for WoW in several countires. It's entirely possible for them to ax this many people without affecting their game development one iota.

Posted by l3illyl3ob

Mike Morhaime also said today via twitter I think that we can expect a Diablo 3 release date in the "coming weeks". A delay seems relatively unlikely (although never rule it out).

Posted by 014

Wow. Is that how good the graphics look in WoW now? I don't remember them looking that good when I played the trial many months ago.

Online
Posted by Jayesslee

I hope Diablo III won't get delayed again :/

Edited by Gabriel

Kotick smells blood.

Posted by NaDannMaGoGo

While absolutely a big number it's not too much of a big deal in relation to their employee count.

I mean they obviously won't lay off their skilled developers, after all they're just growing and getting good artists, programmers etc. ain't easy. Especially if you have to work them into a company this big.

So who knows, perhaps they just cut the unnecessary fat. It can be really harmful if your employee count gets out of hand.

Posted by CVslyy

i hope Bob Colayco wasn't let go.

Edited by Kiri90

Quite honestly, I don't care about games being delayed, or anything else, when things like this happen. I just feel sorry for 600 people and their families have to go through this stuff.

Posted by Junpei

Customer Service would be the most obvious solution and maybe some localization or foreign market jobs as well. I knew Blizzard was big but maybe I was blissfully unaware of how big given they can lay off 600 people and keep the dev teams largely untouched.

Posted by Heath

They are going to stop using battle.net and start using Playstation Network and Xbox Live.

Diablo3 will sell more copys on console than PC Xbox will not have mouse support PS3 will

Im guessing blizzard is demanding Microsoft let them have mouse suport on Project Titain on 360. and Microsoft is saying no and this is quite awkwardly delaying the next generation as Blizzard does not want to help with some "new touch bull#*@$ system on Xbox720" and are just demanding acess to xbox install base so all that talk of them working with microsoft on next gen control systems was really just them hating on kinect and praying for mouse.

the 600 staff are 600 staff that will not be needed when the wow population is reduced or overshadowed by diablo3 and the next gen MMO (possibly NOT on 360 or next gen 360 due to stuborn Microsoft)

Posted by Grimluck343

Makes sense. When you've lost millions of subscribers you can probably afford to cut down on your customer service staff. Best of luck to those affected.

Posted by Jayzilla

@buckybit said:

Good for Blizzard! Watch the D.I.C.E. video with Frank Pearce, Mike Capps & Ted Price from earlier this year (on Gamespot). Blizzard is waaay too big! Letting people go, when they have to (probably already 12 months later then they should have) is a healthy thing for a BIG company.

They still have literally 1000s of community-managers & online-support staff.

No good designer or programmer is leaving the mothership. Be assured.

thanks for putting my mind at ease. i have a heart condition and i couldn't handle the drama.

Posted by zombie2011

Sucks for the people losing there jobs, but at least they weren't game devs from sound of it.

Posted by buckybit

@Jayzilla: haha - you're welcome?

==========

@ all:

If video game business is the Final Fantasy Football of your choice, like it is mine, here's a link to the aforementioned D.I.C.E panel: Staying Around, Playing Around With Mike Capps, Ted Price and and Frank Pearce from Blizzard. Frank isn't talking a lot during this session, but you can get the feel for the scope and scale he has to deal with & the trouble and pressure all CEO's have to cope with on a daily basis managing a video game company & employees.

btw, this link is forwarding you to Gamespot. I apologize for posting this on GB.

Posted by ildon

Darn, I was getting used to the less than 1 hr response time to my WoW in game petitions.

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