"While our financial results for 2018 were the best in our history, we didn’t realize our full potential," Activision CEO Bobby Kotick explains. "To help us reach our full potential, we have made a number of important leadership changes. These changes should enable us to achieve the many opportunities our industry affords us, especially with our powerful owned franchises, our strong commercial capabilities, our direct digital connections to hundreds of millions of players, and our extraordinarily talented employees."
The news arrived earlier today as part of Activision Blizzard's annual financial earnings call
which highlights a record $7.50 billion in revenue for 2018 compared to the $7.02 billion for 2017. So then, why cut so many jobs across the board - even at Blizzard? According to the official word, most of the jobs are unrelated to game development. In that the positions, as far as we know, won't include artists and coders and designers. Consolidation. Streamlining. Maximising. And so forth.
In the end this is a huge move, one that sees the company shedding 8% of it's workforce amid record money coming in the door. A sizable head count too. And one that carries with it a certain sting once you factor in that the new CFO, and finance guy, was recently given a multi-million dollar bonus. The move also comes in the wake of Bungie leaving Activision and long time Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime leaving in 2018 - where he was replaced by J. Allen Brack who became the new company president. Not CEO.
Earlier today, Kotaku acquired
an internal Blizzard memo from J. Allen Brack regarding the layoffs, adding, "Currently staffing levels on some teams are out of proportion with our current release slate. This means we need to scale down some areas of our organisation. I’m sorry to share that we will be parting ways with some of our colleagues in the U.S. today. In our regional offices, we anticipate similar evaluations, subject to local requirements."
A series of events that have left many wondering if the Blizzard of today is the one of yesterday. That said the financial earnings report notes that additional investment is coming to specific franchises.
The number of developers working on Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Overwatch, Warcraft, Hearthstone and Diablo in aggregate will increase approximately 20% over the course of 2019.
As much as we love seeing Diablo getting name-checked, not like this.
And for those looking to find a reason, it's best summed up in the financial report, with the following bit of wisdom.
The Board of Directors declared a cash dividend of $0.37 per common share, payable on May 9, 2019 to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 28, 2019, which represents a 9% increase from 2018.