If you follow the gaming and esports industries in any capacity, you’ve probably seen the waves of layoffs that have been putting hundreds of professionals out of work over the last few months. The Guard, an esports organization owned by Stan Kroenke (who also owns Arsenal FC and the Los Angeles Rams), is the latest to be hit… And sadly they’ve laid off pretty much everyone on their content and creative teams.
Since then, the main @TheGuard Twitter account has continued to tweet and promote gameplay clips like nothing happened.
In an image that seems like it’s straight out of Succession, former The Guard creator Ariel Ben-Abraham said that facility security even tried detaining him for attempting to back up his own laptop files before leaving the premises. It’s an incredibly ugly, unfortunate scene all around. But hey,
While it was previously stated online that “everyone” was let go, further reports clarified that mainly content and creative staff were shown the door. It didn’t appear that anybody internally saw this move coming, but many journalists claim to have seen the writing on the wall for mass layoffs like this for some time. There’s been a lot of reports on “orgs cutting down on speculative spending”, “the esports bubble bursting” and “sustainability” in the industry, but the reality of the situation is that real people are caught up in this mess – and orgs like The Guard aren’t small mom-and-pop business or funky startups. The Guard is a business owned by a multi-billionaire. The Guard’s ownership failed to achieve ROI on their own negligent spending. That aforementioned failure is now forcing numerous real people to scramble and figure out how to break newly-signed leases after uprooting their lives to pursue a job opportunity – and it’s disgusting.
You also can’t blame content creators and creative professionals for thinking that an org who shares an owner with one of the most successful and storied clubs in English football history would offer them job security. Others may hand-wave that away and insist that careers in esports are still a leap of faith. And yes – by all means – compared to legacy media outfits, esports and gaming content creation is still in its infancy. But there’s a place for it, and there’s a place for all of this incredible talent that helps to make the industry move.
Go signal boost the good folks from The Guard who unfortunately find themselves without jobs this morning, I’m sure whoever picks them up will be incredibly lucky to have them. Best of luck to those impacted by these layoffs, there’s a place for you in this industry – don’t let moves like this convince you any differently.
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