Layoffs Slice Into Microsoft’s Gaming Operations

imageThe first wave of Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) layoffs has cut across the company’s various game-related divisions, and the first high-level casualty is Chris Early, GM of Games for Windows Live, according to VentureBeat. The online gaming service is the PC-based counterpart to Xbox Live; it lets players access their unique handle (or Gamertag), high scores and other stats, as well as find and communicate with other players.

The big difference is that Games for Windows Live lets players battle for free, while multi-player gaming on Xbox Live can cost at least $50 annually. And with Microsoft in cost-cutting mode, it’s not clear whether Games for Windows Live will be scaled down in the coming months.

Microsoft also shut down ACES, the studio behind its long-running Flight Simulator title, let go of the bloggers behind its Xbox-centered Gamerscore blog (per Kotaku), and fired about 30 percent of its game testers (also via VentureBeat). The company plans to lay off as many as 5,000 employees by June 2010; these moves came as part of an initial round of 1,400 cuts.

Photo Credit: Gamerscoreblog