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Blizzard’s Unannounced Survival Game Gets Axed Following Layoffs

As part of Microsoft’s decision to lay off 1,900 of their 22,000-strong employees, most of whom are from Activision Blizzard, the latter’s unannounced survival game becomes a casualty as well.

The news came along as Matt Booty, head of Xbox Studios, sent an internal memo to employees, detailing the announcements. In it, Booty mentioned that some of the personnel working on the survival game will be moved to other projects instead. Here’s how Booty announced the cancellation in his memo, thanks to a copy of the internal memo acquired by The Verge:

The changes announced today reflect a focus on products and strategies that hold the most promise for Blizzard’s future growth, as well as identified areas of overlap across Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming. Today’s actions affect multiple teams within Blizzard, including development teams, shared service organizations, and corporate functions. As part of this focus, Blizzard is ending development on its survival game project and will be shifting some of the people working on it to one of several promising new projects Blizzard has in the early stages of development.

It’s currently unknown how many of the 1,900 affected personnel were working on the now-canceled project, and how many of those employees were affected by the layoffs. However, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of new projects Booty was referring to in his memo, and whether they’ll materialize as new games or something else entirely.

Blizzard’s unannounced survival game would’ve been the company’s newest property after Overwatch’s release in 2016. They announced the project in 2022 by posting about their job search on their website and social media. At the time, they were looking to fill positions for a lead artist, senior world designer, engine and art tools engineer, and physics software engineer, among others. The survival game’s completion would’ve joined Blizzard’s small but mighty list of franchises.

What does this mean for Blizzard?

In the grand scheme of things, a project cancellation is a small thing to worry about when a portion of their personnel are getting laid off. However, things currently look interesting for the company after the departures of Blizzard president Mike Ybarra and chief design officer Allen Adham. It’s possible that their leaving was already pre-arranged as part of the deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard, and that Microsoft will use this opportunity to tighten the hierarchy among their acquired brands.

As it stands, only internal employees who were working on the ill-fated project know how far along it was before getting the axe. It’s possible that Microsoft felt the project wasn’t going to be successful anyway, or it was already blowing past deadlines and budget constraints. With no public footage of gameplay or any development updates available, it’s hard to determine how well or how badly the project was progressing.

No matter the reason, it’s never a piece of good news when cancellations and mass layoffs are involved.

Written by
I started writing about video games in 2016, and haven't looked back since. It's been an amazing journey discovering new games and meeting the people behind them. Fueled by litres of tea and nightly legendary skirmishes on Halo Wars with my husband.

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