Even one of the biggest game developers in the world is not immune to financial issues. On Wednesday, Blizzard Entertainment announced it plans to lay off 600 of its employees worldwide. While Blizzard did not say how many employees it currently has, Gamasutra reports that in 2009 Blizzard had 4,600 team members, with possibly 1,000 more added in 2010.
Blizzard said that 90 percent of its team members affected by this staff reduction were not involved in game development. It added that the team behind its hit MMO World of Warcraft was not affected at all by this decision.
In a message board post on the World of Warcraft forums, its president Mike Morhaime said:
After evaluating our current organizational needs, we determined that while some areas of our business had been operating at the right levels and could benefit from further growth, other areas had become overstaffed. As a result, we need to scale down some of our departments and part with some of our colleagues and friends here at Blizzard.
He added that the employees that were let go will be receiving a severance package as well as other benefits.
None of Blizzard's games that are under development will be cancelled by these moves, according to Morhaime. He added that Blizzard is committed to releasing "multiple" games in 2012. One of them is the long awaited action-RPG sequel Diablo III which currently has a target launch date of sometime in the second quarter of 2012. Morhaime said, "We'll have exciting news to share in the coming weeks regarding Diablo III's release date ...".
Other games such as the expansion packs StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria are also in development at Blizzard. Morhaime's message also mentioned Blizzard DOTA which has apparently evolved from a StarCraft II mod to something more. Blizzard also has other unannounced games in the works, including its long awaited next generation MMO game.