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Report: Activision Blizzard Closing French Office

Illustration for article titled Report: Activision Blizzard Closing French Office
Graphic: Activision, Photo: Blizzard

Activision Blizzard will be closing its office in Versailles, France, according to Bloomberg.

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The video game publisher’s French location, which handled press, localization, customer support, and marketing for Activision Blizzard games in Europe, employed 400 workers in 2019. The future of the office has recently been a shaky proposition, however, thanks to a massive round of layoffs that saw 134 employees accept severance packages in early 2020.

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Anonymous sources told Bloomberg that Activision Blizzard originally planned to relocate a sizable portion of the French workforce to the corporation’s London office, but those plans were abandoned due to both the ongoing covid-19 pandemic and complications introduced by the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. It’s as of yet unclear what will happen to employees now, and Activision did not respond to Kotaku’s request for comment.

Earlier this year, an investment group representing Activision Blizzard shareholders argued that CEO Bobby Kotick makes too much money. Kotick, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission filing explained, is allowed “multiple bites at the apple” thanks to “multiple, overlapping award provisions,” with some bonuses far surpassing total pay for many of his fellow CEOs in the video game industry.

This latest bit of corporate downsizing comes at a time of “record results” for Activision Blizzard, a fact that the company itself is more than happy to tout in earnings reports. These profits have not translated to better working conditions for the people who actually make the games, of course. An internal spreadsheet publicized in August showed a massive pay disparity between the executives at the top of the org chart and the folks working in quality assurance and customer support.

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A similar situation played out in 2018 when Activision Blizzard laid off around 800 employees, which amounted to 8% of its staff. It announced the firings during an earnings call in which executives also took time to congratulate themselves on a record-breaking earnings year.

It’s no secret that Activision Blizzard is a massively successful enterprise. What’s been made obvious over the last few years is that the difference between being massively successful and merely successful is the systematic exploitation of its human workforce.

Staff Writer, Kotaku

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DISCUSSION

I would really like to hear an exec explain why record-breaking profits deserve to be followed with layoffs, meanwhile the execs get bonuses. Like, just once, have them sit down and, on camera, be forced to explain why all of these people deserve to lose their jobs when they helped the company achieve new heights, enough so that the execs felt they deserved a bonus for managing the decisions that led to those achievements.