More Details About “The 600”

Yesterday’s big news was the 600 ex-Blizzard employees. The official explanation by Mike Morhaime stressed that these were primarily not members of the game development teams, and business/financial analysis in articles like this one from the Orange County Business Journal listed declining WoW sub figures and company revenues after a 2011 went by without any new game releases. That gave the impression that it was mostly WoW CS people and other office workers who weren’t especially “needed” anymore.

However, as Gamespot pointed out, the original ATVI investor press release stated that 60 people “were actively involved in game development.” That might not sound like a lot, given that Blizzard (formerly) had about 4700 employees globally, but when you consider that only about 1700 of those worked in Irvine, where all their game development is done, and that only a few hundred of those Irvine employees are actively involved in game development, and that Blizzard specifically said that no one working on WoW was included… 60 is a lot!

You have to figure that at least a third, and probably more like half of the game dev people in Irvine are working on WoW, once you include the cinematics and sound and other departments that work on all of Blizzard’s titles. So how do you take 60 people out of the D3, SC2, Titan, and DoTA teams without that making a big difference?

I don’t know… that math sounds pretty tricky to me. You’re free to ask it on the forums, but don’t expect an answer, and if you create a thread to ask the question it will be promptly closed and/or deleted. All such threads are getting that treatment, with an identical reply tacked on before the lock.

Michael Morhaime got $16.5 Million in compensation in 2010. Discuss.

We understand your desire to discuss this topic, but a thread already exists. We’d appreciate you adding your thoughts to it, instead of creating a new thread. You can find that thread here

A few of the threads to earn this closing act are trolly or just dumb, but some others make valid points. Click through for a selection of them, all courtesy of our time (and sanity) saving Blue Tracker.

Not to jump to conclusions, but i think all of the recent changes to the company involving their finances, layoffs, etc. is speaking major volume. Its apparent at this point that the company may be returning to pre-WoW days. Not sure whats next but i dont view Diablo 3 as a lifesaver here. I would say the hopes of the company lie with Titan and future projects. I really wish i knew what the hell activision is up to with blizzard as i view the merge as killing them. As im sure many fans do as well.

Now they have numerous employees jobless and fans on the edge of their seats (as once again its most likely activision slowing down the release of diablo 3 and jeopardizing blizzards quarterly finances). Personally I think blizzard did great without the merge. Just some 2cents i wanted to throw out there.

Guess we know why the Skill UI and Chat sucks

Hard to work hard on a project when you know your going to lose your job. I mean I feel really bad for the people losing there jobs but its obvious in the quality of some aspects of the game 🙁

What is the point of testing this game for free when you can fire 600 employees? This is the wrong time to support a company of greed rather than showing the artistic side of America.

This is another sad day in gaming history. If you were terminated in Wisconsin and have IT experience let me know.
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48 thoughts on “More Details About “The 600”

  1. GUYS, one of my friends from Europe just got his beta-key!! They started sending out to Europe.

    • That’s great news! *goes to and start F5ing*

      Also – reading those selected posts, I feel quite sad for humanity in general. How people got there from ‘600 job losses’ is beyond me. I especially liked the one about the skill/rune ui – lol! 

  2. Merging companies = merging investor pools = more profit pressure on board members from shareholders.

    2011 was a plateau year for Blizzard. Even though the Activision side had COD:MW3, the Blizzard side had nothing but WoW subs to tow the ship. Blizzard salaries and overall company spending didn’t decrease much, if at all.

    Something had to give – me thinks the next investor meeting is going to reveal more WoW sub declines and if there’s no D3 by then, even more grief.

    And with Guild Wars 2 right around the corner, WoW is going to lose even more customers than it did to ToR.

  3. — Also – GW2 had 1 million Beta sign=ups in a 50 hour period.

    If even 1/4 of those people quit WoW just to play the GW2 beta for a few weeks, Blizzard is gonna feel it.

    Especially if ArenaNet keeps inviting them back to all weekend beta events.

    • I guess the question is though, how many people who go to play GW2 for a couple of weeks will actually cancel their WoW subscriptions for that time? Not many..

    • Yer kidding rite?

      Even if wow was to go down to 1mil subs they would still be making upward of 10 mil usd a month…A MONTH. That’s more than some AAA games make in a year. So lets not write wow off the books just yet.

    • Taking joy in the decline of a persistent virtual world is disgusting.  Do you jump for joy every time you learn that a games servers are shutting down?  Were you there cheering, firing off bottle rockets when Star Wars Galaxies shut down in December?

      • …yes…… sucks…..
        ….go out in your garden, make a few holes and start to grow some potatoes……
        ….mybe you learn something new for a change…..
        the future of this planet  depend on it…
        …THE FUTURE are POTATOES……..and tomatos….i like tomatos 2   😛

    • WoW won’t die, the second that game goes free to play, blizzard will make obscene profits. I direct you towards DnD online, when that game went F2P awhile ago profits skyrocketed.

      League of Legends as well is doing pretty well.

      WoW will have a new life when blizzard lets go of monthly fees, and millions come back because of it..buying pets…server transfers…race changes…sex changes…etc etc etc etc etc. 

    • WoW will never die. It will just be replaced. Many companies would kill to have an MMO “dying” the way you propose WoW is. lol

  4. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Blizzard laying off 600 since Blizzard were overstaffed. If Blizzard wouldn’t have layd off 600 then right now, Blizz would be paying 600 employes to do nothing. It doesn’t matter how much Mike M. makes, if there’s no work for the employers to do, there is no reason for them to be in the company. Since there’s nothing for them to do.

    • Nah, I’m pretty sure they just transfered all of their work to one guy. Poor guy…

  5. Surely if D3 is all but complete then a large chunk of the “60” will come from the QA department?

    • More likely QA is pulling massive overtime from now to release so that the day 0 patch fixes most of the bugs in the ‘complete’ release.

  6. Sucks for the ppl losing their jobs but hopefully they can move on to something better, maybe even start something on their own. ArenaNet, the company making Guild Wars 2, was founded by three former Blizzard employees who played important roles in developing Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, Diablo II and Battlenet(the good one) for example, they also have many devs who previously worked at Mythic with Warhammer and DaoC.
    It would be interesting to know where developers were cut and why 👿

  7. all games have betas and demos etc.. and blizz are hiding their Beta keys for the entire EU… gj gj!

      • haha 🙂 im in the us beta for 3 months now and i owe 4 bnet accoutns in eu and neither i or any of my friends have beta keys for the eu. ITs not the point of getting 1% in the beta u know?!

        My comment was bout the fact that other companies create hype by letting ppl test their games .. For example i ordered collectors edition ME3 right after i played the demo and the multiplayer. Before that i i was gonna buy it cuz im a fan of the series but never even thought of CE.

        What blizz does is exactly the opposite.. they arent involving anyone of their fans in europe in anyway.. Gratz to you playing the beta 6 months after beta launched :DDD

        I used to play WoW vanila beta 5 months before launch (the us one) and i was in sc2 beta since day 2 of beta keys.. now im not sure what blizzard is doing.. they seem so confused in their development process..

        Games like GW2 and Lineage3 are just around the cornor.. SWOTOR was allready quite successfull. im betting ME3 would force alot of ppl to completly forget bout blizzard for some time.

        • They gave me a beta key for cataclysm. That was good, I am pretty sure I saved a couple euros because I got tired of the actual game even faster 😉
          No D3 beta key for me yet.

      • Ah and regarding beta keys their policy of giving out betas is retarded.. Ebay is overflooded with keys.. I know ppl who got keys without even owning a game from blizzard and asking me how to use that key cuz ofc they never heard of
        quite demoralising towards the true fans and customers of blizzard you know. Giving a beta key doesnt cost them anything but ensures future sales. Its called customer relationship 🙂

  8. People must accept that Blizzard we all used to know and loved ceased to exist when it was merged with Activision. Sure, even before that, Blizzard was still company that had making money as main objective but at least they cared for their players. But now, it is all about how much money can they reap from the game sales and from additional content, while keeping the costs minimal, so the fat shareholders can wank over theirs share values. And there will be a lot of additional content after release, I am sure. So 600 people fired? Not suprised.

  9. This is quite normal way to get rid of “not wanted” or un-skilled people. 60 is’t that much on scale of Blizzard and they can easily get new people in if they need.

  10. Dear Flux, I enjoy visiting diablo.incgamers for all the information you guys dig up, but your articles are sensationalist to the point that they are no fun to read.

    You are speculating the size of the dev teams and falsely inferring that there will be a big impact on game development. And why are you questioning the “math” that you yourself made up? You are also using the users – who failed proper forum ettiquette – as some sign of Blizzard not being open about the layoffs. The included guesswork of random forum posters does not add anything to the article either.

    I’m not sure if you use that whole “Bobby is evil and Blizzard is working against the community” to spark debates and get more clicks. It’s pretty negative and childish and it takes away the quality of your work.

    Enough forums are filled with “Jay Wilson is making Diablo III for his mom, and Bobby wants to scam us all for our money” crap. You should have a higher standard, and perhaps a more serious tone would rub off on the community. Developers might actually start to listen a bit more if every 4 out of 5 post weren’t just crazy talk.

    As you were… 

    • Instead of criticising why don’t you answer his question, if you’re so clear on what the situation is?

      • Very mature response Elly.
        He as a user of this website gives you feedback on the quality of the article as he perceives it. He does so in a respectful tone.
        I agree with him.

        • Ack away with you, there’s nothing immature about requesting his theories. It’s a moot point anyway, he’s already responded with none.

      • Flux framed the question around some numbers he personally made up (the amount of developers working on different titles).

        I feel there is a general “Blizzard can’t be trusted” vibe in the content put out on this site. That is my critique of what I else consider a dedicated group of people. And sure you can take a little negative feedback, when you already have given so much to Blizzard.

        • There is a general “PR lies to promote their products” knowledge amongst adult humans with any experience in the world of business and public relations. If you haven’t yet learned that from personal experience, then I’m afraid you’ve got some painful truths coming up in your life. 

          That said, nothing in this post was distrustful of Bliz, other than their claim that no game dev would be impacted, since they always say that. (Check their PR quote after the big 4 left Bliz North for a laugh.) I hope they didn’t just gut one of their dev teams, but the numbers are troubling.

          The post cites figures from several news reports, then makes estimates about the actual head counts.  As Elly asked, where is your counter theory? Do you think I’m greatly underestimating the # of people working in active game dev?  Past Bliz quotes can be found with references to dev teams numbering in the 40-70 range. Even counting artists and programmers and cinematic dept, etc, 60 seems like a LOT of those people to remove, without it making a difference.

          • Someone needs to call Blizzard out on this stuff. Personally I like that Flux and crew put a bit of their opinion into the articles here. It’s always good to have another side to the story other than Blizz’s PR department.

          • It’s absolutely fair to call Blizzard out if you have the data to back it up with. And if it pops up later, I would not fault you for writing an article about it.

            You constructed the question around your own numbers being true. You don’t know the size of the pool of “people that were actively involved with developing games”. And you don’t know from which teams/projects. A lot could be a fraction and in any case it could have no effect on the games you mentioned.

            You are defending your position on the matter – fair enough. I would just put it to your attention that (in my opinion) your articles, also your podcasts, lack some objectivity and it hurts the quality of your work.

            I would love to read your analysis on the auction house – it’s use, it’s effect on the gameplay/industry, well argumented/balanced pros and cons, but I don’t care for lengthy remarks about how evil and greedy Activision is.

  11. I got my key months ago and I’m from Germany. So poor you, if you are still missing a key… You don’t wanna play patch 13 anyway…

  12. Holy tin foil hats Batman!  
    When they say “were actively involved in game development.” what does that really mean?  Would someone that play tests the game be considered actively involved in the development? 
    Also there is more going on at Irvine then just SC2,D3,Titan, and Dota.  There is more then one unnamed project in the works. 

    • I am pretty sure they already started laying out the D3 expansion as well. Artists/story tellers, etc. are ready with vanilla D3, so they are doing something else. They may have changed something in their roadmap as well, maybe there won’t be an expansion after the Panda one for example, or they canned the D3 console project till after the release of the new consoles next year (both Sony and Msoft would pay big money to get D3 as a launch game on their new consoles). 
      On a personal note, I used to be a big Blizzard fan. But nowadays Blizzard just ain’t more special to me than Activision or EA. A shame I think, but that is the way things go ;). Probably not different from the way Google and Facebook are going,used to be companies with a nice atmosphere around them, but they’ve outgrown that. 

  13. This might sound scary to us gamers because it might imply that there are games out there not being properly developed or managed.  Perhaps D3 development will suffer as a result of this.  Well I don’t think that will be the case.  It is very hard to find good help these days.  Unless Blizz wants to tank all their projects, I don’t really think they will let go key contributors of their team.  I would suspect the people who ere let go are admin & support employees, who serve no immediate contribution to the projects. 

  14. Blizzard/Activision is no different than any other capitalist free market company in that they are always trying to do more with less people to squeeze every dime of profit they can. Making good money is not important to them, it has to be an absurd amount of money and more every quarter. They want to hit projections and it’s even better when they make more than projected. It’s considered losing money when the projected amount is not met even though they didn’t really lose anything. I would have to agree that the declining numbers from WOW played a part in the decision, but Bobby probably added on another bathroom on to the southeast quadrant of the north wing of his mansion. He had to have the gold plated urinal and the urinal cakes made from rare spices found in the west indies.

  15. Well here’s hoping for a release date announcement next week to make up for this tragedy. As the event, well hindsight is 20/20. If Diablo is released with oldschool chats and improved skill rune system, better ui, etc. then I’ll have no cause for complaints. If not, well, this event will be remembered.

  16. My guess?  60 D3 artists.  You always need so many more artists than anything else in development.  Now that the D3 development crunch is largely out of the way, maybe they have too many artists.

  17. If d3 release is just around the corner, then there are going to be a ton of people getting laid off since they no longer need them for developing the game. A large group likely are QA staff, game testers are usually a short term job position anyways. in addition who knows how many secret projects blizzard has laying around. A couple of them might have gotten axed. And in a time of millions of jobs being lost around the country we are surprised when 600 or so get dropped from the gaming industry?

  18. It’s over with, let it go. People who were going to buy the game are STILL going to buy the game. “That’s just the way it is, some things will never change, that’s just the way it is…

    Also, please keep it on-topic. Everyone doesn’t need to share excitement for YOUR beta key arrival. Post it in the correct section of the forums please. Thanks.

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