Activision Blizzard lays off 50 staff due to pandemic's effects on eSports


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What just happened? The pandemic's far-reaching effects has impacted eSports, which often attracted huge crowds at arena events. As such, Activision Blizzard is laying off around 50 employees as it shifts focus from live competitions to online-only play.

"Players are increasingly choosing to connect with our games digitally and the e-sports team, much like traditional sports, entertainment, and broadcasting industries, has had to adapt its business due to the impact the pandemic has had on live events," an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told Bloomberg in a statement.

Tony Petitti, Activision Blizzard Sports and Entertainment president, suggested that both the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League will remain primarily online with remote competitors in the future.

"We learned a lot last year in terms of how the leagues can be structured for online play, and we'll look to carry forward the best practices from that," Petitti told Sports Business Journal in an interview. "In terms of timing, it's a reaction to the realities of how the leagues are playing and what resources we need to allocate to best serve the league, owners, teams and fans."

The layoffs don't mean live eSports will die off entirely. A representative told "Live events are still very much a part of both the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League strategies. We plan to get back to them as soon as it's safe to do so and logistically feasible."

Bloomberg writes that the laid-off employees, some of whom work for Candy Crush-maker King—an Activision subsidiary— will receive three months' severance, health benefits for the next 12 months, and a $200 gift card for

The success of Call of Duty and Warzone helped Activision Blizzard to record revenues in 2020. The company still closed offices in France and the Netherlands and cut staff at its Asia-Pacific studios, though it will be hiring 2,000 people to meet production demands.

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Dude, I actually laughed pretty hard out loud when I read that Activision Blizzard gave the recently unemployed folks $200 gift cards. That is absolutely hilarious.

With that said, I'm truly glad to hear these folks will keep their health insurance for a year. That is excellent news.

I'm sad to say that as a formerly avid consumer of the Call of Duty League, Cold War and the online format has grown dull and fallen off my radar. They should focus efforts heavily on in-person events, with or without crowds, as soon as absolutely possible. Hopefully, at that point, some of these folks can regain their positions.