Blizzard Entertainment has revealed plans to cut around 600 jobs globally, saying it needs to align its workforce with "current organizational needs." It insists that its "current development and publishing schedules will not be impacted," though around 10% of the people affected are from departments "related to development."
"Constant evaluation of teams and processes is necessary for the long-term health of any business," Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said in the announcement. "Over the last several years, we've grown our organization 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."
"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."
However, the announcement notes Blizzard is still hiring for a number of development roles.
To put the 600 figure into perspective, back in September 2009 Gamasutra reported Blizzard had over 4,600 employees globally. Then, in December 2010, it told the Orange County Register that it had hired over 1,000 employees within the last twelve months. Furthermore, Blizzard's website say it has over 1,500 working in its European offices alone. While 600 is still a lot of jobs to cut, Blizzard is a huge company.
The layoffs are probably in support and customer service, especially considering World of Warcraft is slowly but steadily losing players. The support-intensive MMO was down to 10.3 million so-called "subscribers" in November 2011, from a peak of 12 million in October 2010.
Blizzard is also skipping BlizzCon this year, spinning the pro-gaming section off into its own event, the 2012 Battle.net World Championship.