Activision Blizzard is being hammered with layoffs, and it will likely have a significant impact on both upcoming projects and live titles like Overwatch 2 and World of Warcraft.
January 2024 has not been a kind month for layoffs. Studios from Unity to Riot Games saw thousands laid off, continuing what was already a prolonged bloodbath in the tech industry and gaming in particular. Months after the acquisition for nearly $69 billion, Activision-Blizzard joins this unfortunate trend.
In addition to layoffs, Blizzard President Mike Ybarra and Chief Design Officer Allen Adham exited Activision Blizzard, leaving the future of classic IPs such as World of Warcraft uncertain. Unlike the other employees, the two Blizzard leaders said they left by choice.
Will World of Warcraft be affected by Activision Blizzard layoffs?
The exit of Blizzard chief design officer Allen Adham may significantly impact plans for World of Warcraft’s future development.
Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer states that the layoffs are part of a plan to maximize growth by slashing nearly 2,000 jobs. This comes after visible struggles surrounding the launches of Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2, but is also standard fare for companies after an acquisition.
Although the scope of affected employees is still uncertain, one loss is immediately apparent. Allen Adham wasn’t just one of the three founders of Blizzard; he spearheaded the original vision for World of Warcraft. Despite an early exit in 2004 to work in the financial sector, he returned to the company more than a decade later.
In 2016, Adham became Blizzard’s chief design officer. His tenure in that role was controversial as he bore the brunt of the criticism for Blizzard’s push into mobile gaming with the use of several classic IPs, particularly with Diablo Immortal. Though Adham was blamed for this by disgruntled fans it’s unknown how much of that was actually in his hands. Either way, the departure of a key creative figure in Blizzard and the layoffs of an untold number of staffers will likely have an impact on World of Warcraft and other projects.
Did Blizzard cancel any games because of the layoffs?
Blizzard has canceled an untitled survival game as part of the layoffs.
The game had a cartoony aesthetic similar to Overwatch. The survival mechanics would have combined features and gameplay elements from MMORPGs and sandbox survival games like ARK: Survival Evolved. With a speculated release date of 2027, there was ample time for development.
The layoffs may have included a large chunk of the team assigned to the project, but details are limited regarding the game. With the Activision Blizzard news, the total layoffs in the gaming industry have ballooned to over 5,600 in January alone. That tally is over half of the layoffs from 2023, which were estimated to be around 10,500.