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Activision Blizzard has let go of about 50 employees in its esports division, as the Sports Business Journal first reported.

The publisher blames the decision on the impact the pandemic has had on live events. Activision Blizzard had invested heavily in on-stage esports shows with crowds, including with the Overwatch League, which had Blizzard selling a premium for the right to own a team. COVID-19 forced Blizzard to move its competitive events to online only affairs.

“Players are increasingly choosing to connect with our games digitally,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told GamesBeat. “Everything we do is through the lens of our players, and over the past year, we have been exploring how we might best serve their needs. The esports team, much like traditional sports, entertainment, and broadcasting industries, has had to adapt its business due to the impact the pandemic has had on live events. We retained a vast majority of the team throughout a complex year and these changes were not made lightly, particularly in the current environment. We are taking extensive steps to ease the transition for all affected employees.”

The spokesperson also noted that live events will still be a part of Overwatch League and Call of Duty League’s future, once they are safe to do so.

Since the impacted jobs are related to events planning, the actual players, leagues, and teams themselves should be unaffected. But we could be seeing a greater emphasis on online competitions for a good while into the future.

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