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You Can Never Satisfy These Ghouls

The cruelty is the point

6:11 PM EST on January 30, 2024

Last week Microsoft laid off almost 2000 people from its gaming division, a staggering 8% of that section's total workforce. People with families, dependents, mortgages. People who had maybe relocated for a job, or who were perhaps reliant on its health care.

The decision to terminate the employment of so many people must have been done as a last resort, right? Xbox--despite Microsoft's overall rosy health--must have been bleeding cash to make laying off almost 2000 people the only way to right the ship and return the brand to profitability, surely.

Nope! Microsoft just released its latest financials today, and while many of the numbers have been juiced by the timing of the Activision Blizzard takeover--where most of the layoffs were directed!--one thing was clear: Xbox and every other gaming-related division at Microsoft was making money.

Gaming revenue was up 5% even if you ignore the Activision numbers! Xbox hardware revenue, years deep into a generation where they're in last place, was still up 3%! Xbox "content and services revenue"--Game Pass is probably most of this--was up 61%!

This is a time and a wider economy where entire industries are in free fall, and Xbox is out here not just holding their own, but growing. And the people in charge still felt the need to lay off almost 2000 people, most of them coming from the places that accounted for the juiciest growth. There is no satisfying them! They don't just demand constant growth--itself an impossible task--they demand substantial constant growth, which is so far beyond impossible it's absurd.

This isn't business. It's cruelty. It doesn't matter how well your company is doing, the axe could fall on you at any time. The vulnerability being felt right now by workers across the entire video game industry isn't a quirk of the times, it's the point, and these executives are taking every possible opportunity to remind you of this.

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