As Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick is poised to earn a bonus worth millions of dollars, staff brace themselves for layoffs across Europe

"Players are increasingly choosing to connect with our games digitally."

Activision Blizzard has warned staff of impending layoffs across its offices in Europe.

The news comes as Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick is poised to earn millions of dollars in a bonus.

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Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

GamesIndustry.biz reports the company behind Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush is closing all its publishing offices in Europe as part of a reorganisation that will see the business centralised within one hub in the UK.

Some staff, including those in the UK, have been told their jobs are now at risk and could face redundancy after a consultation period.

"Players are increasingly choosing to connect with our games digitally," a statement issued to GamesIndustry.biz reads.

"We have shared plans with our teams in Europe for how we would evolve as an organisation, adapting to this change to serve our players and best positioning the region for future growth. We will be taking extensive steps to support all employees and ease the transition for those of our colleagues who might be impacted by these proposed changes."

These layoffs are said to affect Activision Blizzard's publishing operation, not its development, live operations and customer support teams. Candy Crush maker King's European offices are said to be unaffected.

The news comes after Activision Blizzard announced layoffs in the US tied to live events and esports.

Bloomberg reported 50 employees who handled esports programming and other live events were fired this week in a round of layoffs that affects less than two per cent of the company's total workforce.

The statement issued on the layoffs in Europe echoed the statement issued on the layoffs in the US:

"Players are increasingly choosing to connect with our games digitally and the esports team, much like traditional sports, entertainment and broadcasting industries, has had to adapt its business due to the impact the pandemic has had on live events."

In the US, the affected workers will receive a minimum of 90 days severance and health benefits for a year, Bloomberg said, as well as "job transition support" and a $200 gift card for Battle.net.

The US decision has caused concern about Activision Blizzard's esports offering, which includes the Overwatch League and the Call of Duty League.

Kotick was criticised this week by CtW, an investment company that "holds directors accountable for irresponsible and unethical corporate behaviour and excessive executive pay". CtW claimed Kotick is set to earn nearly $200m in a stock bonus, although Activision has said the total amount has yet to be decided.

The company laid off roughly 800 people in early 2019. Last October, Activision Blizzard closed its long-standing office in Versailles, France, affecting hundreds of staff.

Activision Blizzard's better-than-expected 2020 revenue was $8.09 billion, up from $6.49 billion for 2019. Last month, Activision Blizzard said it expects to hire 3000 people in 2021, mostly in production and development.

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Wesley Yin-Poole

Wesley Yin-Poole

Editor  |  wyp100

Wesley is Eurogamer's editor. He likes news, interviews, and more news. He also likes Street Fighter more than anyone can get him to shut up about it.

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