Activision Blizzard has confirmed that it will be chopping 600 employees from its payroll, as it loses World of Warcraft subscribers to free-to-play alternatives.
The employees, spread across the company's world-wide offices, are mainly administrative staff. According to the company's statement, around 90 per cent of the those laid off are from departments not related to game development. While that leaves sixty developers facing the chop, the company is quick to point out that nobody from the World of Warcraft development team is affected by the move.
This last snippet of information comes despite the massively multiplayer online role-playing game continuing to lose subscribers: the seven year old game lost 700,000 subscribers in the third quarter of 2011, and while it still boasts 10.2 million players it's not known how many of these continue to pay a monthly subscription and how many are simply taking advantage of the game's shift to a partial free-to-play model.
It's this model which appears to be causing Activision Blizzard a real headache. As games like Guild Wars 2 appear on the horizon, offering a similar multiplayer experience to World of Warcraft but without the associated monthly subscription once the free play limit is reached, the company's main source of income is under threat.
'Constant evaluation of teams and processes is necessary for the long-term health of any business. Over the last several years, we've grown our organisation tremendously and made large investments in our infrastructure in order to better serve our global community. However, as Blizzard and the industry have evolved we've also had to make some difficult decisions in order to address the changing needs of our company,
' claimed Mike Morhaime, company chief executive and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, in a statement to press. 'Knowing that, it still does not make letting go of some of our team members any easier. We're grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the people impacted by today's announcement, we're proud of the contributions they made here at Blizzard, and we wish them well as they move forward.
The company claims its development schedule will not be affected by the layoffs, with Diablo III, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard DOTA, and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm still on-track. The company has also indicated that it's interested in replacing some of its lost staff with additional developers, asking those interested in applying to head over to the official jobs board.