Blizzard reduces staff by 600

Whenever any company claims to be reviewing its “current organizational needs,” it may ultimately be good for the future health of the company, but it usually translates to either massive cuts or hires in the workforce. Unfortunately, after video game developer Blizzard Entertainment reviewed its “organizational needs” for the year, it has decided to take the former route, resulting in a layoff of 600 employees.

As of a few months ago, its global workforce was said to be around 4,600 people strong. The meat of these layoffs (about 90 percent) is coming from non-game development related departments–or you could read those numbers as Blizzard letting go of 10 percent (60 employees) of its workers involved in game development. It all depends on whether you want to look at it as glass half empty or half full. Blizzard was, however, quick to point out that game development and publishing schedules will not be affected.

Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, did release a statement wishing all of the now unemployed staffers well on their future endeavors. But I’m sure, as anyone who has been laid off may understand, those words can ring hollow when you’ve just lost your job. He did also admit that Blizzard was having to make some “difficult decisions” due to the “changing needs” of the company.

It’s uncertain why Blizzard has called for around 12 percent of it employees to be let go. No doubt most critics will jump to the recent decline of nearly 800,000 World of Warcraft subscribers Blizzard suffered (from 10.3 million to 10.2 million during the 4th quarter of 2011) as a reason. However, Blizzard hasn’t cut the WoW development team, suggesting this is more about changing times in the industry and Blizzard reacting to them generally.