Microsoft lays off most of Activision Blizzard esports organization

Microsoft has laid off most of the internal Activision Blizzard esports organization, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The layoffs at the internal group are believed to be part of the 1,900 cutbacks in jobs that Microsoft announced last week for its Xbox, Bethesda and Activision Blizzard gaming divisions.

In a statement, Activision Blizzard said, “Our esports business is not going away, but we’re being thoughtful about how to evolve to better deliver for our players and fans. With a continued commitment to competitive esports, we have landed on a model that more closely aligns with our game franchises. We’re not stopping esports, instead, we are adapting to a new business model to better serve the community. The people who are directly impacted have all played an important role in the success of our team, and the success of Activision Blizzard. We are grateful for their contributions, and we will provide our full support with severance, equity, bonus, healthcare, and job support.”

While esports has struggled as an industry, it’s still surprising to see Microsoft bail on it altogether. In particular, this will affect the Call of Duty League and the Overwatch League.

This comes in the wake of Blizzard Entertainment’s deal with ESL-FaceIt last week to partner on the Overwatch 2 esports league, entitled the Overwatch Champions Series.

The Overwatch Champions Series will take place in three regions: North America, EMEA and Asia. ESL Faceit Group will not manage the Asia circuit. Instead, Korean esports tournament organizer WDG is handling Asia. Johanna Faries, who earlier in her career managed the Call of Duty League, was named as president of Blizzard Entertainment yesterday.

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