Gamers are angry at Activision Blizzard after the company laid off almost 200 employees as its CEO is set to receive a massive cash reward of $200 million.
Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier reported earlier today that Activision Blizzard laid off 190 employees across multiple departments, including 50 employees who worked on esports programming. A spokesperson for Activison said the cuts were made because of losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which cancelled last year’s major esports events. The job cuts arrive after a massively successful year for the company that saw its stock share price hit its highest point since 1984. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is also set to receive a $200 million cash payout as part of the “Shareholder Value Creation Incentive” provision is his employment contract, despite the layoffs.
The provision loophole allows Kotick to collect a full performance cash payout regardless of whether the Activison Blizzard’s milestones were met through rewards dating all the way back to 2017. Several gamers swarmed Twitter to voice disgust over Activision Blizzard terminating 190 employees while paying its CEO hundreds of million dollars, especially during a time as economically turbulent as the ongoing pandemic-fueled recession.
Many users on Twitter said Activision Blizzard would probably save more money and jobs by simply firing Kotick. This argument was made by user MisterKontos, who added that the company would not lose anything worth worrying about by firing Kotick.
Some users criticized Activision Blizzard’s history of laying off employees as it makes record profits. The company laid off more than 800 employees in 2019 and shut down its French office last fall, despite its share prices steadily increasing. Twitter user Futterish said it was Activision's choice to lay off the workers in a time on uncertainty.
Some users also had disdain for the severance that was offered to the laid off workers. The former employees will reportedly receive 90 days of severance, as well as $200 in gift cards for Battle.net, Blizzard’s online pay.
Fans are not the only ones angry at Activision Blizzard and Kotick. CtW Investment firm, one of Activision Blizzard’s investors, also criticized the layoffs in a statement that suggested that Kotick was not responsible for the company’s uptick in sales. Activision’s share price has increased by 66 percent since December 2019, though CtW Investment said this is likely from players buying more games while in lockdown during the pandemic rather than Kotick’s leadership.
This is not the first time that Kotick has come under fire for his massive pay. CtW spend much of last year slamming the CEO’s exorbitant pay. According to the firm, Activision Blizzard’s employees typically earn less than one third of 1 percent of Kotick’s yearly salary. Kotick received more than $96.5 million in cumulative income from Activision Blizzard between 2016 and 2020.
After a lengthy silence, Blizzard finally gave Overwatch fans another glimpse at Overwatch 2 in February. While Overwatch 2 skipped the keynote address at BlizzCon 2021, the game did get its own video presentation afterwards, detailing Hero Missions, the New York and Rome maps, and some potential changes that are on the way for Tank heroes like Reinhardt. While many fans were understandably excited to finally get an update on Overwatch 2, many were disappointed that nothing was really announced for the existing Overwatch game, especially since the sequel is not releasing this year.
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