The first weeks of 2024 have seen a large number of layoffs throughout the gaming industry, which has led to social media users sharing comments previously made by the late Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata, as reported by NME.
Iwata oversaw the launch of the Nintendo DS and Wii, both great successes for the Japanese company, during his time as Nintendo president, taking office in 2002 before he died in 2015. But as CEO, he experienced Nintendo’s turbulent launch of Wii U, which is widely considered to be a flop.
It was the failure of Wii U that led to Iwata going to the lengths that not many CEOs of large tech companies have done, which is to take a 50% pay cut to avoid mass company layoffs. At the same time, other top executives reduced their salaries by 20%.
And it’s a decision that people are being reminded of now as the tech sector continues to suffer widespread layoffs in the first month of 2024. Speaking in 2013, Iwata said: “If we reduce the number of employees for better short-term financial results, employee morale will decrease. I sincerely doubt employees who fear that they may be laid off will be able to develop software titles that could impress people around the world.
“At Nintendo, employees make valuable contributions in their respective fields, so I believe that laying off a group of employees will not help to strengthen Nintendo’s business in the long run.”
They’re words that Nintendo fans on social media have been praising once again, with many calling for top tech chiefs to follow Iwata’s lead by cutting their salaries before deciding to axe thousands of employees.
Iwata’s comments resurfaced following Microsoft’s decision to lay off 1,900 employees from Activision Blizzard, Xbox and ZeniMax earlier this week, months after its $69 billion acquisition was approved by regulators. Also this week, Riot Games announced 500 layoffs.
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick earned an average $77,306 per hour in 2022, according to NME, while Xbox boss Phil Spencer reportedly has an annual salary of $10 million a year. Since the acquisition, Kotick has stepped down and left the business but Spencer has remained in his position.
So it’s no wonder fans have been calling for those on larger salaries to start taking the hit instead of effectively punishing employees on smaller salaries when cost-cutting measures are needed or structural changes are made.
Satoru Iwata (god bless him) took a 50% pay cut after WiiU’s poor sales TO NOT LAY OFF WORKERS and you can’t tell me that the higher ups of Riot couldn’t do the same and still earn a good salary? pic.twitter.com/xWBl52IkzN
— PunyPenguin // Princess of Harmony is Coming! (@PunyPunyPenguin) January 23, 2024
Brutal start to 2024 for the tech industry
The aforementioned layoffs by Microsoft and Riot Games take the total number of tech industry layoffs since the turn of the year to almost 24,000 from 85 different companies in the sector.
According to layoffs.fyi, over 260,000 tech jobs were axed in 2023, which was the worst year for the industry since the global pandemic disrupted global economies in 2020.