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Layoffs Hit Activision Following Weaker Guitar Hero, Skylanders Performance

by Mike Futter on Feb 15, 2016 at 06:21 AM

This morning, we were tipped off that there were some staffing changes hitting Activision. While the publisher isn’t being specific about offices impacted, we have reason to believe that the Minneapolis, Minnesota location has been affected.

When reached for comment, the company confirmed layoffs had taken place. “As announced on our earnings call, our games for core audiences did extremely well, but the casual audience has not yet emerged on next gen consoles,” an Activision spokesperson told us. “So we are refocusing to better align with Activision’s long-term priorities because, as always, our strategy evolves to keep us ahead of a rapidly-changing industry. We are working with those impacted by the changes to offer outplacement services and support.”

Activision revealed on its earnings call that Guitar Hero and Skylanders both under-performed this year. The company also confirmed that its music game would strictly be service-based this year, and no new boxed title would be arriving in 2016.

The publisher has also scaled back its licensed game business, which was handled in part out of the Minnesota location. This year’s lineup includes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan and a rumored Ghostbusters game.

Our tip-off about the layoffs came from a significant other of an alleged Activision employee. At this time, we cannot confirm the status of that office, and the publisher isn’t saying. However, Activision did not deny or correct this information and it is possible that the location has been closed. 

We are continuing to track this story and determine the impact at different locations. We’ll update should we receive a response.

Activision has taken on new priorities recently in mobile (with the acquisition of King), television and movies, and eSports (thanks to its new ownership of Major League Gaming). These could be the elements of the evolving strategy mentioned in the statement.


Our Take
Our thoughts are with those impacted by these layoffs. We’re hopeful that the impact to the Minnesota office and other locations is minimal. However, it seems that Activision is aligning itself away from casual gaming on consoles a bit after the disappointing performance of two key titles in that segment.