Microsoft Axes Blizzard’s Odyssey and 1,900 Jobs in Gaming Division

Blizzard Entertainment, the video-game maker behind popular franchises such as World of Warcraft and Overwatch, has canceled one of its biggest projects on Thursday. The game, codenamed Odyssey, was a survival game for PC and console that was supposed to introduce new stories and characters. Blizzard had announced the game in January 2022 and was hiring workers to help build it. However, the game never saw the light of day and was terminated as part of a reorganization under its new owner Microsoft Corp.

The cancellation of Odyssey was not the only casualty of Microsoft’s restructuring of its gaming division. The software giant, which bought Activision Blizzard for $69 billion in a deal that closed in October 2023, is laying off 1,900 people, or 8% of the gaming division’s total staff. The layoffs affect multiple Blizzard teams, including development teams, shared service organizations and corporate functions. Microsoft’s Xbox and ZeniMax Media businesses are also impacted by the job cuts. ZeniMax, which owns Bethesda Softworks, was acquired by Microsoft for $7.5 billion in March 2021.

Microsoft Axes Blizzard’s Odyssey and 1,900 Jobs in Gaming Division
Microsoft Axes Blizzard’s Odyssey and 1,900 Jobs in Gaming Division

Microsoft Aims for Sustainable Growth and Ambitious Games

Microsoft’s gaming CEO Phil Spencer said in an internal memo that the layoffs and the game cancellation reflect a focus on products and strategies that hold the most promise for Blizzard’s future growth, as well as identified areas of overlap across Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming. He said that the leadership of Microsoft Gaming and Activision Blizzard is committed to aligning on a strategy and an execution plan with a sustainable cost structure that will support the whole of their growing business. He added that they have set priorities, ensured that they are all aligned on the best opportunities for growth, and enabled Blizzard and Xbox to deliver ambitious games on more platforms and in more places than ever before.

Blizzard Fans Express Disappointment and Anger Over the News

The news of Odyssey’s cancellation and the layoffs at Blizzard has sparked a backlash from the fans of the video-game maker, who have expressed their disappointment and anger on social media. Many fans said that they were looking forward to playing Odyssey, which was teased by Blizzard in 2022 with an image of a futuristic city. Some fans accused Microsoft of ruining Blizzard’s creativity and quality, and said that they would boycott Microsoft’s products. Others expressed their sympathy and support for the laid-off workers, and hoped that they would find new opportunities soon.

Blizzard Still Has Other Projects in the Pipeline

Despite the setback of Odyssey’s cancellation and the layoffs, Blizzard still has other projects in the works that could appease its fans. Blizzard is developing Diablo IV, Overwatch 2, and a mobile game called Diablo Immortal, which are expected to launch in the next few years. Blizzard is also working on several promising new projects that are in the early stages of development, according to Spencer’s memo. However, it remains to be seen how these projects will fare under Microsoft’s ownership and whether they will live up to the expectations of the fans.

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