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Phil Spencer in Email to Xbox Employees: Layoffs Were 'Painful'

Phil Spencer in Email to Xbox Employees: Layoffs Were 'Painful' - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 21 January 2023 / 5,499 Views

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer in an email sent to Xbox employees said the layoffs at Microsoft have been "painful" and it has been a "challenging moment in our business."

"This has been a difficult week across Microsoft, and here, inside our teams," said Spencer in the email to Xbox employees that was shared with Kotaku. "Now that many of the 1:1 and team conversations have happened, I want to take a moment to reiterate the message that you heard from your leaders.

"This is a challenging moment in our business, and this week’s actions were painful choices. 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. I know that hurts. Thank you for supporting our colleagues as they process these changes.

Phil Spencer in Letter to Xbox Employees: Layoffs Were 'Painful' is a 'Challenging Moment'

"Over the coming weeks we will have many opportunities to connect and answer your questions, including the Monthly Gaming Update next week for teams who attend that meeting, and I am in close contact with teams at ZeniMax to provide support. The GLT and I are committed to being as transparent as we can. Moving forward with ambiguity is challenging, but I am confident that together, we will get through this difficult moment in time.

"Xbox has a long history of success thanks to the work you do in service of players, creators, and each other. Your work is so deeply appreciated and valued in these times of change and is integral to our business momentum. I am confident in our future and proud to be part of this team, but also conscious that this is a challenging time and I want to thank you for everything you do here."

Microsoft earlier this week announced it plans to lay off 10,000 employees, which is a bit under five percent of its 220,000 workforce. The layoffs will take place by the end of its current fiscal quarter that ends on March 31, 2023.


A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012 and taking over the hardware estimates in 2017. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel. You can contact the author on Twitter @TrunksWD.


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47 Comments
Bandorr (on 21 January 2023)

Bullshit on "painful". You aren't a mother having to choose between two kids.
You are a billion dollar company firing people while fighting to spend 70 billion on companies. Companies whose game you were already getting.

You can argue you aren't a charity - but you don't get to play the pity card.

  • +17
zero129 Bandorr (on 22 January 2023)

Phil is sending this out to the people under "Him", maybe to try boost moral within his studios. He doesnt make the decisions of Ms as a whole just the xbox side of things and even if the people over him wants to fire some devs who are underperforming such as 343i from the xbox side the isnt much he can do about it as he still has to answer to them.
Also was Gamepass getting them ABK games already too?. as im sure you know thats what the deal is about and breaking into mobile.

  • -2
DonFerrari zero129 (on 22 January 2023)

Yes sure. Satya is likely saying the same to all divisions. How sorry he is about firing people while collecting immense bonus, and that MS didn't had any other option to keep profiting insane amounts. My company got similar mass layoff in the past with similar excuse.

  • +11
zero129 DonFerrari (on 22 January 2023)

Well we didnt get any e-mails from Satya yet so who knows?.

  • -5
DonFerrari zero129 (on 22 January 2023)

Sure, Satya must have said he was pleased to fire the 10k employee and that they don't bother complaining

  • +2
zero129 DonFerrari (on 22 January 2023)

How does an article about what Phil says turn to what Satya is saying?. The mind gymnastics you do sure is funny.

  • -5
DonFerrari zero129 (on 23 January 2023)

Because you brought the "He doesnt make the decisions of Ms as a whole just the xbox side of things and even if the people over him wants to fire some devs who are underperforming such as 343i from the xbox side the isnt much he can do about it as he still has to answer to them"...
Whatever Phil says as a higher up on MS is certainly aligned with whatever Satya allows him to.

  • 0
bowserthedog Bandorr (on 22 January 2023)

Its a business and there are ebs and flows to hiring and and having to do layoffs. Everyone is going to be doing layoffs with such a hawkish fed.

  • +2
Azzanation Bandorr (on 22 January 2023)

Unfortunately life is cruel and this is reality. You are right, they are not a charity.

  • -1
VAMatt Bandorr (on 22 January 2023)

The people that manage publicly traded companies have a legal and moral responsibility to the people that own those companies (the shareholders). The people that work in those companies come secondary. That's just a reality of most modern economic systems. If the head count needs to be cut, it doesn't matter what else is happening in the business, those people have to be let go. Doing otherwise would be a breach of the fiduciary duty of management, and possibly actionable in court.

  • 0
VAMatt Bandorr (on 22 January 2023)

If you don't like the fact that employees are secondary in importance to the owners of a company, then you have a philosophical problem with capitalism. So you need to work to change that, and then business practices, and the laws that apply to them, will follow. But, right now, this is exactly how it is supposed to work.

  • +1
zero129 VAMatt (on 22 January 2023)

I dont get why people are down voting common sense. They must know nothing of how publicly traded business work.

  • -2
VAMatt zero129 (on 22 January 2023)

Agreed. People downvote because they don't want other people pulling their head out of the clouds.

  • -3
natertigra21 (on 22 January 2023)

Lies of P

  • +11
Leynos (on 21 January 2023)

I'm sure that Sting concert wiped away those tears

  • +10
Jumpinbeans (on 22 January 2023)

The only painful bit is it's made it a little bit more tricky to justify spending $67billion buying a company and their 9,800 employees when you have to fire 10,000. I reckon companies involved in mass layoffs should be prevented from any acquisitions.

If Microsoft cares this little about its employees - imagine what it thinks of its customers.

  • +9
zero129 Jumpinbeans (on 22 January 2023)

Yes because one = the other right?. I mean if you run a company you cant fire some staff (For reasons we dont know) and then go buy a company thats going to help boost the markets your trying to get into right?. and since you fired them staff it also means you must not give a shit about your customers right? who cares if they buy your product since you fired people you dont give a shit anyways. I would hate to know what Sony thinks of their customers since they have been firing staff every year since 2008 to 2022 almost 80,000 staff. Since some users like to say a multi billion dollar company like Sony was hurting in 2008 from 2014 to 2022 they have fired almost 40,000 staff all while still buying exclusives and devs. I guess they must really hate their fan base going by your words.

  • -5
Jumpinbeans zero129 (on 22 January 2023)

Activision is a rounding error for MSFT when you look at their turnover vs MSFT as a whole. If you tack on the entire turnover and MSFT's increases by 4%, add entire profit and it increases by about 4% too. Obviously you'd strip the revenue gathered from MSFT platforms out of this so it's less you'd be adding but it is not a major driver of profit and it won't be.

re Sony

Sony don't make $80+billion dollars / year.
Sony don't fire 10,000 people and at the same time try and acquire 9,800 people - let alone in the same division (as Phil said Xbox is releasing people too).
Sony has only been generating profits of any magnitude since 2017. even though at their peak they are 1/10th of what MSFT are making. I don't know the stats for job losses since 2017 but id suspect the vast majority were in divisions/sectors they were exiting. Any job losses when a company is losing money is understandable - when they are profitable less so.

  • +5
zero129 Jumpinbeans (on 22 January 2023)

You do know much of the staff fired from MS are not in the xbox division right? much of the hit seems to come from 343i and its something a lot of people wanted as they have not managed Halo very well at all and have been giving more then enough chances. a few from bet but that seems to be it from the gaming xbox side of things. As for the rest they seem to be from Holo lens and Edge, maybe Ms is exiting out of the AR market and cutting back on Edge and the rest of the staff are prop from markets they are exiting out of too. If they are exiting out of some markets, doesnt mean you cant hire in others that your trying to boost your market presence in. And you honestly believe Sony was only making any kind of profit worth talking about in 2017??. Why have they still been firing staff every year since 2017 then??

  • -5
haxxiy (on 22 January 2023)

"We also decided to pay some sweet dividends next week, but believe me."

  • +7
DonFerrari (on 22 January 2023)

Fake empathy.

  • +7
TheLegendaryBigBoss (on 22 January 2023)

Wonder how exactly Xbox was affected, looks like from what we know it's 343 (halo mismanagement) and Bethesda (fallout 76?). I wonder how many are from the countless number of studios they acquired that still haven't come out with exclusives, like Compulsion Games, Double Fine, InXile, Ninja Theory, and Undead Labs. All acquired in 2018 and we have no clue when their games are coming out or what some of them are working on (officially).

  • +6

The only studio on that list that probably should have put something big out by now is Ninja Theory. The rest are small studios that already released big games after being acquired or spent a long time supporting a game already out, like Undead Labs with SoD2.

Ninja Theory did release Bleeding Edge, but we should have seen more of Hellblade 2 by now.

  • +1

Yeah the other studios are smaller and we should have seen more of hellblade 2 as bleeding edge came out 3 years ago and support ended 2 years ago.

  • +3
BINARYGOD LudicrousSpeed (on 23 January 2023)

"The only studio on that list that probably should have put something big out by now is Ninja Theory." lol wut?

  • +1
TheLegendaryBigBoss (on 22 January 2023)

Even when making billions, lay-offs still occur. Very unfortunate and hope those people get back on their feet!

  • +6
Kakadu18 (on 22 January 2023)

Sure they were painful. Of course they were.
What an idiot.

  • +5
Jumpin (on 22 January 2023)

The now jobless ex-employees are playing the world’s smallest violins for Phil Spencer’s pain.

  • +4
zero129 Jumpin (on 22 January 2023)

All well getting nice pay well above market for the next 6 months along with health care and stock and all/most will most likely be in a new job before then and still getting them benefits.

  • -5
Jumpin zero129 (on 22 January 2023)

And I’m guessing that pittance makes this corporate abuse alright in your eyes. You don’t need to lick boots in the forums. Think for yourself, or prepare to invest in some toothpaste because I doubt shoe shine comes off easily.

  • +1
zero129 Jumpin (on 22 January 2023)

Well its much more then other companies are doing while firing people. No one said its alright but its going on everywhere atm at least the ones who got fired from MS will have plenty to hold them over till they get a new job but with the way some fans of other systems are acting here you would think its the end of the world for them people and like this never happened before or from their own fav companies.

  • -1
CaptainExplosion (on 22 January 2023)

There needs to be reform in the tech industry.

  • +4
Angelus (on 22 January 2023)

Some of the comments here are pretty telling of the fact that you've never been in a position where you or someone you're close to was given the mandate to fire large groups of people.

  • +1
BINARYGOD Angelus (on 23 January 2023)

while of course its meaningly pr fluff and of the such, and people would correct to point that out - many just want to get their hate boners for MS out, its as simple as that.

  • -1
LivncA_Dis3 (on 23 January 2023)

How bout don't buy a bliz acti and not fire people for no reason yeah?

  • 0
scrapking LivncA_Dis3 (on 23 January 2023)

Who said any of these people were fired for no reason? They're likely favouring people who've had the worst performance evaluations, etc., in the layoffs. There may also be redundancies with Bethesda that have been identified, such as overlap in administrative positions where the same department exists in Xbox Game Publishing as in Bethesda.

Microsoft had a hiring freeze in place for quite a while before finally resorting to layoffs, so they've been trying to reduce head count organically, but I guess not enough people had wanted to leave.

None of that makes these any less painful for the people involved, unfortunately. But that still doesn't mean the people leaving are leaving for "no reason".

  • 0
LudicrousSpeed (on 22 January 2023)

I’ll never understand the Spencer hate boner LOL

Obviously they made the layoffs for the same reasons all the other big tech companies are laying people off, but that doesn’t mean the move wasn’t difficult or painful.

  • 0
Libara LudicrousSpeed (on 22 January 2023)

It's simple, he's better than their favourite companies exec so they feel really insecure and angry about it.

  • -2
Jumpin LudicrousSpeed (on 22 January 2023)

It’s easy to explain why you don’t understand it. You’ve fallen for corporate PR bullshit.

  • +4
LudicrousSpeed Jumpin (on 22 January 2023)

no u

  • -4
BINARYGOD Jumpin (on 23 January 2023)

no, actually, some of us DO understand it, and understand why other companies doing this or worse are not getting this level of hate from entirely predictable group of users at this site.

  • 0
ClassicGamingWizzz (on 22 January 2023)

This dude has some balls, fails after fails, cant run shit on xbox devision, terrible at studio management, keeps buying more and more with microsoft money, layoffs already hitting bethesda studios and keeps getting awards, journos keep giving him interviews where he lies and lies. Did he get a salary cut like other peopple in the past when companies had trouble? Was he in the sting concern also having fun ? Shut the fuck up.

  • -2
Imaginedvl ClassicGamingWizzz (on 22 January 2023)

ahah man you are so unreal and probably living in another world...

  • 0
ClassicGamingWizzz Imaginedvl (on 23 January 2023)

You guys deserve phill spencer.

  • -6
Azzanation (on 22 January 2023)

When will people learn the reality of the real world. This is nothing new yet people continue to cry like this is the first time they see this happen.

  • -10
Hynad Azzanation (on 23 January 2023)

Remember that.

  • -6
Azzanation Hynad (on 23 January 2023)

I have, for many years.

  • -1