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Activision Blizzard lays off 50

Publisher cites impact of pandemic on esports business, says live events "still very much a part of both the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League strategies"

Activision Blizzard laid off around 50 people today, as reported by Bloomberg and Sports Business Journal.

The cuts are said to be coming primarily from the publisher's live events and esports businesses.

"Players are increasingly choosing to connect with our games digitally," an Activision Blizzard representative told GamesIndustry.biz. "Everything we do is through the lens of our players, and over the past year, we have been exploring how we might best serve their needs.

"The esports 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. We retained a vast majority of the team throughout a complex year and these changes were not made lightly, particularly in the current environment. We are taking extensive steps to ease the transition for all affected employees."

The representative did not immediately return a request for clarification as to which division the cuts came from.

Speaking with Sports Business Journal, Activision Blizzard president of sports and entertainment Tony Petitti said live events for Call of Duty League and Overwatch League aren't going away entirely.

"We learned a lot last year in terms of how the leagues can be structured for online play, and we'll look to carry forward the best practices from that," Petitti said. "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."

An Activision Blizzard representative further clarified for us, saying "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."

Bloomberg reports that US employees being laid off will get at least 90 days severance and a year of continuing health benefits.

Blizzard shut down offices in France and the Netherlands last October and trimmed staff at its Asia-Pacific studios in November. In between those layoffs, it announced plans to hire 2,000 people to meet production demands.

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