By now, many of the people caught up in this week’s massive Activision Blizzard layoff have been informed that they’ve lost their jobs. But at Blizzard’s office in Versailles, France, more than 400 people are still waiting for news. And, due to complex French labour laws, it might be months before they find out what happens to them.
On Tuesday, the publisher behind games like Call of Duty and Warcraft began informing employees all across its offices that they were laid off. In Europe, where it was already evening, staff had to wait until the next day to see what might happen. Then, on Wednesday, Blizzard’s French office told its staff that 134 of its 400 positions would be eliminated, according to two people who were there, speaking anonymously because they did not want to risk losing potential severance if they were laid off.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the company will lay off 134 people. Some might be given opportunities to take other positions. Rumour among employees is that those positions could be based in Blizzard’s other European offices in Cork, Ireland or The Hague, Netherlands, which would be tough for anyone who can’t or has no desire to move to a brand new country.
“No one knows any details and this is taking a big hit on the morale of the folks over here,” one Versailles employee told me in a text message. “Not knowing if you will be laid off in a few weeks or months sucks and many people here are already updating their LinkedIn because they want to be prepared for when they will be told what will happen exactly.”
Complicated French labour laws make it difficult to lay people off immediately and without notification, which is why Blizzard’s Versailles office is in this position following the massive layoffs that took place across all of Activision Blizzard’s companies this week. The legendary developer of games like Diablo and World of Warcraft was hit hard. Although rumours of incoming layoffs had circulated for months, the company did not inform employees at its main campus in Irvine, California until Tuesday afternoon, alongside Activision’s quarterly financial earnings call.
Blizzard’s Versailles office handles PR, esports, localisation, customer support, and marketing for their games in Europe. Those employees still don’t know which positions will be eliminated, who will be affected, or what kind of severance packages they’ll receive, according to the two people who work there. They don’t even know when they’ll find out.
“It’s a two-edged sword,” said an employee. “On one hand it is good to be able to prepare, but the way it was handled and that no specifics were given, no names or dates, makes it really awkward.”