Activision Blizzard have confirmed layoffs in their APAC offices, reportedly to outsource more non-development jobs in the region.
MCV/Develop initially reported that “according to a source familiar with the matter” over 100 Activision Blizzard employees in the APAC region(Asia-Pacific). This would include Japan, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Australia, and more. These will be in the marketing, PR, publishing, customer care, and localization departments.
The source claimed (in MCV/Develop’s words) this was due to the company transitioning the non-development workforce into an outsourcing setup.
“Activision’s part of the company doesn’t believe in community management and fandom,” the source stated. “They think their games sell themselves. They’d rather pop a couple of millions on having Beyonce tweet about CoD than hire a bunch of good people.”
Activision have seen the launches of popular titles this and the prior year; Spyro Reignited Trilogy, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Call of Duty: Warzone.
The news may be somewhat surprising, considering just three weeks prior we reported how Activision Blizzard made $1.95 billion USD in revenue in Q3 2020, and were hiring 2,000 people to meet production demand.
MCV/Develop theorize that the changes are also due to this, with the source stating that Activision Blizzard had been outsourcing non-development for some time. This was particularly true in PR and customer care sectors.
An Activision Blizzard spokesperson would later reply to MCV/Develop, stating the companies plans to centralize their APAC operations to their Sydney office.
“We’ve been exploring how we might best integrate our capabilities across the business and be efficient as we evolve to meet growth opportunities and stay competitive in Asia Pacific. To that end, we have begun conversations with employees regarding a plan to centralize some roles across the region in our Sydney office. Decisions of this nature are never easy and supporting our employees through this process is our number one priority.”
After this statement, MCV/Develop also reported that customer support and localization would not be affected by the layoffs, and the number of people being made redundant was closer to 30. Why the source would tell MCV/Develop a different story is unknown.
As a whole, Activision Blizzard have had a rocky road since 2019. They fired their Chief Financial Officer Spencer Neumann in early 2019 (who swiftly found work at Netflix), and later announced laying off hundreds of staff. In November 2019, over 800 employees were laid off amidst poor sales.
Controversial billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros later invested $45 million USD into Activision Blizzard in March 2020. Even so, its French office was shut down in October of this year, reportedly along with offices in The Hague, Netherlands.
While Activision has had most of the successes in recent years, Blizzard Entertainment has had most of the woes. In 2018 the lackluster reaction to Diablo Immortal [1, 2] set the tone for Blizzard Entertainment for that year and the next. Late 2018 saw them reportedly paying over 100 staff to leave customer-service roles.
In January 2020, Warcraft III: Reforged‘s launch was nothing short of a disaster. Complaints arose within 24 hours of the game’s launch, and fans (who had their original copies of Warcraft 3 forcibly upgraded) campaigned to make the game the lowest-rated on Metacritic.
In October 2019, Blizzard had been denounced by many gamers over their suspension of pro-Hearthstone player Blitzchung for his support of the Hong Kong protests, firing the casters, and their overall handing of the entire debacle. Even US Senators wrote to Kotick, condemning the decision.