Gaming | February 9, 2024
The layoffs at Activision Blizzard will have a profound impact on the development of their upcoming games. While the cuts significantly affected Blizzard, most studios responsible for Call of Duty reported workforce reductions.
According to CharlieIntel, Sledgehammer Games, the developer of the recent Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, lost 30% of its staff. Michael Guerra, the QA leader, stated that the cuts affected his entire team. The head of quality control revealed that he learned about the layoffs along with the general public: through social media.
On the other hand, High Moon Studios and Toys for Bob, two support studios in various Call of Duty releases, also suffered from the layoffs. High Moon Studios lost 10% of its employees, while Toys for Bob cut 30% of its staff.
“Today’s layoffs have hit me. I am devastated and heartbroken, but I can’t say that I’m surprised,” said Matt Hansen, an animator at High Moon Studios. “We did some really amazing things there. I’m grateful for the opportunity, learned a lot, and met some great people,” he said.
According to internal sources, the layoffs affected all Activision Blizzard studios, including Treyarch, Infinity Ward, Ravern Software, and Beenox. Tyler Diaz, a game systems designer for Call of Duty at Treyarch, confirmed that yesterday was his last day at the studio.
Contrary to some reports, the layoffs did not focus on duplicated areas following the Microsoft and Activision Blizzard merger. The most severe cuts were recorded at Blizzard, where entire development teams were eliminated, and only a few employees managed to relocate to other projects.
it’s difficult to predict the true impact of the layoffs on the development of the upcoming Call of Duty games. Microsoft declared some time ago that they would leverage all of Activision’s inactive intellectual properties. Rumors pointed to a shift in the direction of the annual releases of the shooting franchise, freeing support studios to explore other projects.
The reality is that Call of Duty is a money-making machine, and Microsoft did not pay $69 billion to explore Activision’s creativity. Although the tech giant has not confirmed its plans, it’s almost certain that the studio’s focus will remain on the shooter. The merger also implies that development studios would adopt a contractor-based model.
Microsoft, like many companies, uses this scheme to save on benefits provided to its full-time employees. This practice was the subject of a class-action lawsuit known as permatemp, where Microsoft paid $97 million to settle the case in December 2000.
According to Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreirer, 343 Studios’ contractors had an 18-month limit, so the studio constantly lost personnel. Activision Blizzard also uses this model, but only in departments like quality control or 2D and 3D art. Gameplay pillars are the responsibility of the development team, consisting mostly of employees.
If Treyarch or Infinity Ward becomes Turn 10 or 343 Studios, we might get an idea of what lies ahead for Call of Duty and other games from the company.