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Blizzard lays off Hearthstone developers after restructuring team

Blizzard Entertainment has laid off a number of developers on the Hearthstone team after what is apparently a result of internal restructuring. News first spread via tools engineer Hunter Curren, who posted on LinkedIn that the game’s team is “apparently being restructured” and his role is “no longer needed.”

Senior producer Joe Belousek also posted about his departure on LinkedIn. According to Kotaku senior reporter Ethan Gach, Belousek and Curren were among 10 developers laid off by Blizzard.

An Activision Blizzard spokesperson confirmed the layoffs to Gach and Game Developer, stating the layoffs were a result of “organizational changes” to the Hearthstone team, and that a small number of roles had “become redundant” as a result. “We want to thank these employees for their many contributions,” they concluded.

Said restructuring would be taking place in advance of what is expected to be the successful acquisition of Blizzard Entertainment parent company Activision Blizzard by Xbox manufacturer Microsoft.

It’s unknown if the changes to the Hearthstone team were made specifically because of the impending acquisition or in a routine corporate reorganization.

This is the latest in Activision Blizzard’s labor woes

Activision Blizzard has spent the last two years facing a barrage of complaints by current and former employees, some of which escalated into a lawsuit filed by the State of California alleging a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination. The company settled a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over such claims for a sum of $18 million.

Others would lead to the unionization of QA departments at subsidiaries Raven Software and Blizzard Albany.

Unionization efforts at the publisher slowed down in 2023 after a failure by employees of subsidiary Proletariat to successfully unionize (a process that employees said was a result of union-busting tactics from management—and management said was a result of aggressive tactics by Communication Workers of America).

But even without unionization, employees have loudly pushed back against decisions made by company management. A February all-hands led by Mike Ybarra left Blizzard employees fuming over the company’s strict return-to-office policy, comments that seemed to denigrate the role of customer service and QA positions, and a sudden declaration that employees would only receive a portion of their profit-sharing bonuses.

Response to the layoffs on the Hearthstone team appears to be muted. It’s yet to be seen if any kind of labor action will follow this series of surprise layoffs.

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