Activision Hit With Layoffs After Guitar Hero and Skylanders Underperform

By | 8 months ago 

Activision confirms reports that the publisher is initiating a round of layoffs – a result of the poor performance of series such as Skylanders and Guitar Hero.

Publisher Activision holds the keys to a number of the most popular franchises in video games, maintaining rights to the Call of Duty franchise and Bungie’s multiplayer shooter Destiny. However, it seems as though not every series under the publisher’s belt is performing as well. Unfortunately, it appears that this has led to a number of layoffs within the publisher’s studios.

According to comments made by the publisher to Game Informer, Activision has been forced to implement a round of layoffs, confirming previous reports that jobs were going to be lost. The publisher also seems to have a direct reason for the downturn, with both Skylanders and Guitar Hero not performing as expected in the company’s earnings call. Explaining that “the casual audience has not yet emerged on next-gen consoles,” this has unfortunately led to employees losing their jobs.

Whilst the publisher’s core game franchises have continued to do well, with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 making $550 million in sales in just three days, these more casual properties have struggled this year. As a result, Activision is planning to make changes to its strategies. “We are refocusing to better align with Activision’s long-term priorities because, as always, our strategy evolves to keep us ahead of a rapidly-changing industry,” explained an Activision representative.

Donkey Kong Skylanders

The publisher has stated that the drop in Skylanders success may be down to a greater level of competition, and there is certainly a kernel of truth in that. Perhaps a victim of its own success, Skylanders popularized the toys-to-life genre, before the likes of Disney Infinity and Nintendo’s amiibo range moved in to the same market. Although the series collaborated with Nintendo on Skylanders Superchargers, it does not appear to have been enough to keep the franchise on track.

Skylanders is far from the only casual property that has seen diminishing returns of late, however. Guitar Hero Live was also not as commercially successful as Activision expected, in spite of strong reviews. Meanwhile, mobile developer King, after being bought out by Activision for $5.9 billion last year, recently announced a drop in profits of $58 million.

The news will no doubt be devastating for the employees affected, with Activision offering up “outplacement services and support.” The publisher will also be aiming to improve matters for the future, to ensure that this kind of action does not happen again. With Activision now confirming the release of a new Call of Duty game in 2016, perhaps pushing the traditional gaming franchises will help turn the publisher around.

Source: Game Informer