Blizzard Entertainment is eliminating 600 positions from its global workforce, the publisher announced earlier today. The layoffs came as a result of reviews of the company's organizational structure, with a press release announcement specifying that "approximately 90% of the affected employees will come from departments not related to game development." The presser specifically adds "The World of Warcraft development team will not be impacted."
A former Blizzard employee familiar with the organizational issues explained to Vox Games that the layoffs are predominantly from customer service. The automation of customer services — such as the reclaiming of compromised user accounts — led to a drastically increased efficiency of each customer service representative. Combined with the decrease in WoW subscribers, Blizzard found that their customer service manpower far exceeded demand, our source reports.
Blizzard also explained that the layoffs would not affect the release schedule of their other upcoming titles, including Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, Diablo 3 and WoW: Mists of Pandaria. We've contacted Blizzard to find out if customer service was indeed the department most affected by the layoffs.
Update: Blizzard president Mike Morhaime posted in the official Battle.net forums with further explanation of the staff reductions. "In order to keep making epic game content while serving players effectively, we have to be smart about how we manage our resources," Morhaime said. "This means we sometimes have to make difficult decisions about how to best maintain the health of the company. We're in the process of making some of those hard decisions now."
Though he didn't specifically mention customer service, Morhaime said that certain departments were found to be "overstaffed," and were being scaled-down as a result. He assured readers that Blizzard will offer severance packages and "other benefits" to folks affected by the layoffs.