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Microsoft Starts Cleaning House in the Merger-Bloated Xbox Division

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By Nelson Schneider - 02/04/24 at 03:19 PM CT

Last year, the epic-scale merger of Microsoft’s Xbox Division and former Big Three member of the Triumvirate of Evil Publishers, Activision, finally went through, after years of legal challenges (mostly from Sony). The MeltedJoystick Crew wasn’t 100% sure of what to think of this merger, as it could have gone one of two ways: Either the Xbox Division would become even worse as it assimilated the toxic corporate culture of Activision (and subsidiaries Blizzard and King), or Microsoft’s non-gaming, straight-laced, no-nonsense corporate culture would hold firm and they’d force some much-needed baseline standards upon some of the worst-of-the-worst actors in Industrial Gaming.

Last year’s news that Bobby Kotick was getting the boot was a positive sign of things to come. However, the other shoe has really dropped as of late January, 2024, not even an entire month into the first year of the merger. It turns out that Microsoft has made the decision to absolutely gut Activision, tossing 1900 employees overboard, and reducing the Xbox Division’s total staff by roughly 8%.

Of course, it’s to be expected that one major corporation acquiring another will result in plenty of redundant employees, and this staffing cut is clearly trimming that fat. However, a number of top leadership positions at the acquired studios have also “chosen to step down,” truly decapitating the old Activision-Blizzard-King, and allowing Microsoft full control of the headless puppet-corpse that remains.

Of course, we’re still waiting for Microsoft to do something with the older studios it has owned for years now, with nothing to show for their efforts under their new overlord, other than not-even-game-of-the-year-nomination-worthy ‘“Skyrim” Bugs in Space’ simulator, “Starfield;” the absolute flop, “Redfall;” and a remaster of the mediocre (and developed-prior-to-acquisition) “The Outer Worlds.” Maybe finally owning one of the biggest (and ugliest and most boring) toys in the toybox will give the Xbox Division the needed impetus to start producing Gamepass-selling blockbusters before Phil Spencer’s hourglass runs out of sand.

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