Exclusive Interview With Ex-Wizards Employee On Layoffs

Josh Nelson • December 25, 2023

Hasbro is not on the good list this year. Wizards of the Coast, the company that develops Magic: The Gathering, has been beset by layoffs from the toy and game giant this holiday season. As such, there is much discontent behind the hallowed walls of Wizards of the Coast's headquarters, and, unfortunately, now outside of it as well. More than 1,100 people were left unemployed after Hasbro went through these layoffs. This amount includes a large number of people now previously under Wizards' employ. We had the opportunity to conduct an exclusive interview with one of these ex-employees.

A shot of the external facade of Wizards of the Coast's headquarters in Renton, Washington. We conducted an exclusive interview with a now ex-employee after Hasbro's holiday layoffs left 1,100 people without their jobs.
A shot of the external façade of Wizards of the Coast's headquarters in Renton, Washington. We conducted an exclusive interview with a now ex-employee after Hasbro's holiday layoffs left 1,100 people without their jobs.

For reasons of their protection in the industry within which they are still aiming to be employed, we have omitted our interviewee's name from this article. Without further ado, here is what that ex-employee of Wizards of the Coast had to say.

Was the layoff something that came out of nowhere?

Yes and no. While there were communications that numbers were not where they were needing to be, all conversations pointed to this being due to the toys division of Hasbro and that changes would be taking place on that end. We had several Townhall Q&As with [Human Resources], Cynthia Williams, and Chris Cocks where this was brought up. In the one with Cynthia, she responded to HR's comment of "we are killing it" by correcting her and saying we actually were not. She then called out to someone in the back of the group saying "I believe Wizards' numbers are lower than last year" to which the person she was speaking to said they were actually up. She then tried explaining [this] as Wizards not hitting the numbers needed (what was promised to stockholders) and if not for Baldur's Gate 3 the company would be in trouble. When this was brought up in the Chris Cocks Townhall, he commented about it being more towards the toys division and that changes would be made.

Was there severance, and if so, was it reasonable?

There was, though in looking at what has been offered at other companies, it is definitely on the lower end.

Where are the internal fault lines, both within Wizards of the Coast and within Hasbro in general? Is there any generational divide, for instance?

The employees within Wizards all meshed really well. You had to. Teams were so short-staffed and begging for headcount before the layoffs that you didn't have a chance to clash about anything.

From your experience, were the layoffs targeted at upper, middle, or lower-class employees?

Across the board; the only exceptions were the execs who needed to be held accountable the most.

Is your faith in Hasbro as a company any different now compared to a month ago?

Faith is much, much lower. However, this was dropping even before the layoffs happened. The constant need to squeeze customers for everything they could, while requiring employees to do more and more with fewer resources just showed that they were strictly about the money. And yes, companies have to make money, but there was clear disregard for the customers here. Concerns and feedback were constantly raised to leadership, but it didn't matter. Only to just keep pushing the product.

How much exposure to the details of Wizards of the Coast branded items does the standard Hasbro employee have? Do you see or hear anything like book names or packaging before it is announced?

This depends on what products you are working on/with. You have to have insight to build campaigns and marketing. But insight was all there was. Again, feedback, concerns, and anything else brought up was dismissed.

What was the internal reception to Alta Fox's attempt to separate Wizards of the Coast from Hasbro in 2022?

It was hard to hear anything about this with so much "BECOMING ONE WITH HASBRO IS GOING TO BE WONDERFUL!" being shouted at us. However, employees were wary and had concerns. Nothing I recall being addressed. Just a lot of "leadership will have to discuss that and get back to you".

What is the internal reception to the Magic Arena economy? (Wildcards, no trading/dusting, etc.)

Yes, players complain, but as long as they are spending money, why change anything?

What are some resources you know about that could help out those who have been laid off by Hasbro?

Linkedin seems to be the best currently. With as many layoffs as we are seeing across the industry, people are really stepping up to try and help one another. Lean on your networks.

A shot of the exterior of Wizards of the Coast's headquarters in Renton, Washington. We hope that our exclusive interview has shed some light on the goings-on behind its walls.
The exterior of Wizards of the Coast's headquarters in Renton, Washington.

We thank our anonymous contact for their willingness to let us hear what they had to say. Our hearts go out to those affected by Hasbro's layoffs, both from within Wizards of the Coast and without. Hopefully these people will find gainful work quickly.

Josh Nelson wears many hats. They are a music journalist when not writing gaming news. Beyond this, they're a scholar of the Sweeney Todd urban legend, a fan of monster-taming RPGs, and a filthy Aristocrats player. Josh has been playing Magic since 2001 and attributes their tenure to nostalgia, effort, and "aesthetic".