Xbox CEO says Microsoft's layoffs were 'painful choices,' after tech giant announced 10,000 job cuts

  • Xbox CEO Phil Spencer said Microsoft’s layoffs were “painful” in an email to staff. 
  • Video game blog Kotaku obtained a copy of Spencer’s email to staff working in Microsoft’s gaming division.
  • Microsoft is just one of many major tech firms to have confirmed layoffs in recent weeks.

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Xbox’s CEO Phil Spencer said Microsoft’s layoffs were “painful choices,” after 10,000 people lost their jobs, video game website Kotaku reported.

Kotaku obtained a copy of a company-wide email — through a current Xbox employee — sent by Spencer to all full-time staff in Microsoft’s gaming division. 

“This is a challenging moment in our business, and this week’s actions were painful choices,” Spencer wrote in the email.

“The Gaming Leadership Team had to make decisions that we felt set us up for the long-term success of our products and business, but the individual results of those decisions are real,” he continued.

“I know that hurts. Thank you for supporting our colleagues as they process these changes.” 

Spencer added that he’ll answer any questions from staff in meetings, “provide support,” and be as “transparent” as he can about the situation. 

“This feels like something you send out on obligation,” a current Xbox employee told Kotaku in a text message. “I seriously doubt any of those monthly gaming updates or other meetings are going to do anything to make anyone feel better.”

Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella sent an email to staff on January 18 saying the company was laying off 5% of its workforce, equating to around 10,000 employees. 

The layoffs affected Microsoft’s gaming studios including 343 Industries, Bethesda Game Studios, and its parent company ZeniMax Media, according to Bloomberg. 

The tech giant acquired ZeniMax for $7.5 billion in March 2021, and in January recognized its first labor union after video game testers at ZeniMax voted to unionize.

The union for tech workers Code-CWA put out a statement on Twitter saying: “CWA reps have been in touch with Microsoft & the company recognizes its obligation to bargain over any proposed layoffs of CWA members at ZeniMax. 

“The ZeniMax worker bargaining committee will be developing proposals that reflect their needs & provide alternatives to layoffs.”

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