Layoffs happen in video games all the time. It’s common, but it always sucks. The latest in the long list is Activision which, according to Kotaku, has laid off 5% of its workforce.
Some of those are members of Activision’s corporate offices, but game studios were included in that as well. Infinity Ward, the developer behind 2016’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, saw 20 members of its team let go, while Beenox’s in-house quality assurance team has been shut down completely. Gamasutra says the latter still has 150 people working, so it seems the studio itself isn’t in trouble.
But why those teams?
Studios often employ developers for the course of development on a single game and them dump them when the game is out the door or as they ramp down support for a game. These layoffs coming from Activision, though, seems especially bizarre. The company had an absurdly good year in 2016. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was one of the best-selling games of the year, despite not resonating with fans. The company made bucket loads of money off of in-game purchases and saw revenues up by almost 50%. While Infinity Ward was working on Infinite Warfare, Beenox was helping Raven Software with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered, another huge game.
Another Call of Duty is coming later this year. It hasn’t been announced, but let’s not kid ourselves. Sometime in the first two weeks of November, we’ll have a new Call of Duty game on shelves. And surely the teams cracking away at that could use the extra help.
A statement from the company said it was “realigning” its resources to support upcoming projects and to “adapt to the accelerating transition to digital, including opportunities for digital add-on content.” We hope anyone affected by the layoff is able to find a new home soon.