Blizzard cuts 600 jobs

World of Warcraft creator Blizzard Entertainment has announced that it’s to lay off 600 staff worldwide.

However, it says, the WoW development team won’t be hit – indeed, only ten percent of the layoffs will be in the games development department.

CEO and cofounder Mike Morhaime says that the layoffs are liked to the company’s growth and reorganization over the last few years.

“Over the last several years, we’ve grown our organization tremendously and made large investments in our infrastructure in order to better serve our global community. However, as Blizzard and the industry have evolved we’ve also had to make some difficult decisions in order to address the changing needs of our company,” says CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime.

“Knowing that, it still does not make letting go of some of our team members any easier. We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the people impacted by today’s announcement, we’re proud of the contributions they made here at Blizzard, and we wish them well as they move forward.”

The company says its current development and publishing schedules won’t be affected.

It will announce specific release plans for Diablo III very soon, and is getting close to the beta testing stage for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard DOTA and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. Indeed, it says, it’s actively recruiting qualified developers.

Like many traditional games companies, Blizzard is struggling to keep competing with the makers of free internet games. Even the number of WoW subscribers is on the slide. A year ago, it axed Guitar Hero, and cut 500 jobs. The new round of layoffs will see staff numbers reduced to under 7,000.