In 2014, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata took a 50 percent pay cut
, and legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto shaved his salary by 30 percent. Seven other Nintendo executives took haircuts of 20 percent. They did this, in part, to spare Nintendo workers from layoffs after the dismal performance of the Wii U home console.
Then the hatchet came down, and about 800 people – 8 percent of Activision Blizzard’s workforce – lost their jobs. Their livelihoods. As the blood dripped from that hatchet, Activision announced a 9 percent bump in its dividend.
I was stunned. I expected layoffs, but firing close to 10 percent of any company is shocking. Activision had a strong year. Maybe expectations are too high? Maybe the idea that higher growth year after year after year is something that’s not sustainable, regardless if you have new games or not.
But then I remember what Nintendo did during the Wii U’s struggles. The executives shouldered the blame and protected their workers. Fans praised Iwata. Nintendo’s following has always been strong, and it gives its players reasons to be loyal.
Blizzard Entertainment is one of the storied names in PC gaming. It set the standard for real-time strategy with Warcraft and StarCraft. World of Warcraft was a juggernaut for years, and millions still log in and play despite it launching back in 2004. Diablo helped create a genre. Hearthstone showed that card games could bring in big audiences – and big bucks. Overwatch made the team shooter accessible to even me, an old man with slow reflexes and bad eyesight.
Best wishes for all those Activision Blizzard laid off in this bloodbath. May you find new jobs – and stable jobs – soon.
–Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor