Activision Blizzard to lay off 50 employees in esports-centric restructure

The company is moving its focus to an online format, pulling back on physical elements.

Image via Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard and its president of sports and entertainment Tony Petitti revealed today that the company will be laying off 50 people within its esports department as part of an internal restructuring.

These moves, according to The Esports Observer and Sports Business Journal, are being made as the company works on focusing the business to depend less on live events in the future. 

Petitti didn’t specify exactly what areas were being scaled back, but Activision Blizzard is in the process of informing those who have been laid off about the decision and severance packages are being given out. This comes after the company retained most of its staff through the turbulent 2020 run in its esports division across the Overwatch and Call of Duty Leagues. These changes are now being made to cut costs and reallocate resources. 

While Petitti said that future esport projects aren’t going to move entirely out of the physical space, the company is focused on optimizing its leagues and formats for online play. 

“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 TEO. “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.”

With this announcement, Activision Blizzard pointed to the already ongoing 2021 season for the CDL, which is experiencing early growth in viewership and other metrics as a sign that focusing its efforts to optimize online events could continue to help the business grow. 

Petitti “remains bullish” on the potential for growth in both the OWL and CDL, noting that the teams and company have “nothing but optimism” as they work to develop and polish the competition and presentation aspects of the leagues.