Yesterday, Malta-based company King announced it was closing two studios in an interview with Swedish publication Breakit. The studios in question, one in Seattle and the other in San Francisco, are the latest casualties in the Activision-Blizzard-King trifecta. King is best known for its Candy Crush series. The Seattle studio, acquired by Activision Blizzard in 2015, worked on mobile game Paradise Bay, which released to financial success. The closure of the Seattle site alone is a loss of 78 positions, according to an article by gamesindustry.
The news comes as part of Activision-Blizzard terminating 8% of its employees on Tuesday. These layoffs are despite "[sic] record results in 2018" and promises to increase stockholder dividends by 9%. Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzard CEO, claims that the layoffs are targeting non-game-development departments while shoring up development teams. The cuts resulted in the termination of approximately 800 employees. Some were junior employees, but others had careers spanning 15 years with the company. A Kotaku article about the layoffs describes the main feeling among current and ex-employees as "rage." While full-time employees received a severance package, many contractors had no such luck. As one employee succinctly put it:
“The look on people’s faces as they’re pulling in through the gates is just awful. This is the fucking worst.”To some, the cuts felt random and arbitrary. Activision Blizzard's esports department took the heaviest losses, but even workers feeling confident and secure in their positions received the bad news. One employee confided in Kotaku staff writer Jason Schreier about their thoughts on the company.
“There’s a real struggle now between developers and the business people… Strategic decisions are being driven by the finance group.”Activision Blizzard currently publishes high-profile titles such as World of Warcraft and the Call of Duty series. The three companies announced their merger in February 2016.