“Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals. And a happy New Year!”

This is a line from the classic holiday film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, in a scene where young Kevin McCallister, played by absolute legend Macauly Culkin, tricks a bunch of hotel staff including fellow legend Tim Curry as the concierge and garbage human being Rob Schneider as the bellhop that they’re being shot at by a gangster. In reality, Kevin is just playing a movie on the TV at an obnoxiously high volume. The gangster, played by Ralph Froody speaks the iconic line after opening fire on a “bunch of punks.”

This line came to mind earlier this week when Hasbro announced it was laying off 1,100 staff members in order to “Keep Hasbro Healthy” according to CEO Chris Cocks. The layoffs, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, come after 800 employees were already fired earlier this year, and Hasbro stock is down just over 17% year-to-date. The layoffs, we soon learned, would directly affect both iconic Wizards of the Coast brands: Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: the Gathering.

Despite Wizards of the Coast’s revenues growing by 40% according to Hasbro’s October earnings call, they were still hit incredibly hard by the layoffs. Many employees took to social media to share their unfortunate news with their fans and the larger gaming community. While many of them tried to remain upbeat and look forward to continuing their careers in the industry elsewhere, it’s hard to look at the logistics and feel any shred of empathy for Hasbro or CEO Chris Cocks.

Wizards’ record revenues came in the same year as a Dungeons & Dragons movie as well as confirmation that the Magic: the Gathering Netflix show was in fact still in the works. While the rest of Hasbro continues to lose money, Wizards seemed like the only profitable division left. And yet, with less than two weeks until Christmas, a time meant for celebration and good cheer, and spending some bonus cash on toys for yourself and your loved ones, Hasbro took the axe hard to a significant number of the employees working on their most successful product.

“Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals. And a happy New Year!”

Layoffs have run rampant through the gaming industry this year, so in some sense it shouldn’t be too surprising for Wizards of the Coast to fall victim to the same industry problems. Earlier this week an entire studio shut down after its recent MMO early launch was deemed a financial failure. Back in November, the Los Angeles Times reported on a number of studios facing similar issues, with many pointing to post-pandemic adjustments in consumer demand contributing to the job losses.

In some ways that’s understandable. Just last week I wrote about the effects of the pandemic on our own operations here and the operations of our soon-to-be-former sponsor (please don’t go, we miss you, we can work it ooooooooouuuuuutttttt). Covid forced a lot of folks to remain indoors for much longer than they were used to, looking for new ways to entertain themselves. Many turned to card games, board games, and video games and their companies saw profits rise as a result.

But that narrative has a lot of holes in it if you start to look at numbers and companies that managed to remain successful. For example, Games Workshop, the UK-based tabletop game studio most famous for Warhammer, just cut cheques (see, they’re British, so it’s not checks) to all their employees for a £2,500 Christmas bonus (just over $3,178 today). Nintendo reportedly gave all of its employees raises earlier this year while most tech giants were cutting jobs.

So again, who is really to blame here? Is it the covid-19 pandemic and consumers rapidly shifting demands who are to blame for the poor mega-corporations that are firing their employees two weeks before Chrsitmas? Or, perhaps, it’s a CEO who has limited experience in the toy industry, trying to manage a clearly sinking ship at Hasbro, and throwing the most profitable segment of his company under the bus because he believes that he can keep milking that cow for more Secret Lair money even if he reduces workforce by 20%?

“Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals. And a happy New Year!”

Rich Stein (He/Him) is a huge fan of Home Alone and believes that all of our problems can be solved with a cartoon-like level of violence and a heartwarming cross-country trip in a van with John Candy. Keep the change, ya filthy animal.

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