In every industry, there have been times when a number of employees are let go either because of financial or strategic reasons like expansion or acquisition. The video gaming sector has also seen its fair share of layoffs though some were bigger than others, with the rapid rate of development in this sector, a lot of constructive decisions are being made daily in relation to budget and staff size and as such, there has been an increase in video game company layoffs.
This growing trend has put employees in constant fear knowing that at any time, they could be saying goodbye to their jobs, there have been a lot of video game company layoffs but some have rocked the gaming world because of their size and the name of the company which was involved.
Why it Happened
The video game makers most recognized for their role in developing the online role-playing game series, Guild Wars announced in February of this year that it was planning big layoffs. The CEO of NCSoft West, Songyee Yoon, which is the company that owns ArenaNet sent an email to employees stating that their live game business revenue was declining, also the delays in development on PC and mobile had created further drains against their revenue projects, while their operating cost in the west had significantly increased.
Slow development progress combined with a lack of new games in 2018 and 2019 led to financial troubles with their last release which is the “path of fire expansion for Guild Wars 2 coming out in September 2017. Taking all these into consideration, the sustainability of ArenaNet and its future success were hanging on a thin line and something was going to be done.
How it happened
The plan was to cut costs across the organization and restructure across the board, merging ArenaNet and Ncsoft’s publishing divisions in the process, there was going to be a large organizational restructuring. ArenaNet which employed over 400 people according to its LinkedIn page then finally announced on the 25th of February its decision to lay off about 143 employees at its Bellevue headquarters, one of the biggest video game company layoffs ever seen and it would start from the 1st of March.
The announcement caused a spark on social media with people taking to twitter to stand in solidarity with the company and the employees who were laid off with the #love4arenanet being used., Lead narrative designer for ArenaNet, Aaron Linde left the company and several other developers such as Galie Gray, Josh Foreman were laid off.
Activision Blizzard Layoffs
The American video game and film holding company which has developed a lot of famous games from Call of Duty to Starcraft to Overwatch, Hearthstone and so many others are also part of the companies involved in video game company layoffs
Why it happened
A lot of people still wonder what the hell happened for Activision Blizzard to engage in massive layoffs considering it had just set a 2018 record for financial performance making about 7.5 billion US dollars in sales and 1.8 billion US dollars in profit so this was, in fact, a very good year financially wise for the video game company but for the decision-making board of the company the financial success it had recorded just was not good enough to keep the entire company employed.
A lot of people suggest that this layoff happened because of the company’s need to cut cost, even though blizzard is today is a billion-dollar valued company and has made some of the most successful commercial games, they have not really developed many new games of late and they were looking for how to make more games for less cost.
Activision Blizzard cited restructuring as part of its reasons for this layoff stating that it has missed expectations for 2018 and lowered expectations for the year ahead. CEO, Bobby Kotick said the cutoffs would come from support staff while the company cements its commercial operations by increasing development resources by 20 percent this year on its Overwatch, Starcraft, hearthstone franchises it was to now focus on.
How it Happened
The company which employed over 9,000 employers laid off about 800 people in total ranging from employees who had been at Blizzard for a long period of time to juniors who were just starting at the company. The layoffs appeared to have hit the non-gaming departments such as publishing, IT harder with more coming from there, along with the layoff letters came severance packages and some other minor assistance to ease the blow being dealt with these employees.
Electronic Arts Layoffs
Also, an American video game company and the second-largest in all of America and Europe by revenue and market capitalization trailing only behind Activision Blizzard has also been involved in the biggest video game company layoffs.
Why it happened
The makers of games including FIFA, Alone in the Dark. Apex Legend, Madden NFL and a literally a whole bucket full of others announced earlier this year its decision to lay off some of its employees stating their need to focus on increasing the quality in their games and services, the layoffs cut across the offices owned by EA globally and they were targeted at redundancies focusing mainly on its marketing and publishing departments.
In a statement from the company’s CEO Andrew Wilson, he confirmed the layoffs in what looked to be like a trimming down of staffs in offices where they were not getting the desired results.
How it happened
In March 2019, about 350 employees in marketing, publishing and some other areas were let go with an email to employees from EA’s CEO stating that the goal would be to streamline decision making in the marketing and publishing departments following a consolidation that began last year, improve customer support and also change international strategies which saw the closing offices in Japan and Russia.
The three listed video game company layoffs are not the only layoffs to have happened as there continue to be several factors at play guiding the decisions of people at the helm of affairs of these companies, Amazon this year also confirmed layoffs of dozens of game developers from Amazon Game Studios citing reorganization and cancelled projects for its reasons. In September 2018, a popular video gaming company, Telltale had to lay off a total of 250 employees leaving just 25 in its staff as part of its impending closure and this 250 were left with no severance package, and unsure hopes about the future and left stunned by company’s closure.
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The layoffs at video game companies are certainly not a thing any employee wishes to go through and with companies such as Blizzard, EA sports involving in such, it dims the hopes of stability for employees in other video game companies. With the gaming scene rapidly developing year by year and companies setting different targets and economic factors coming into play, what do you think is the future of the video game companies and layoffs, have we had the largest scare in 2019 or is it just the beginning? Drop a comment below with your answer.