The reason for the layoff is unclear but Blizzard stated that the World of Warcraft team will not be affected. I think they meant that the live (development) team will not be affected, because it’s pretty obvious where the cuts will be the deepest – WoW’s customer support and community services.
Considering that Blizzard had added 5000 people to handle WoW’s unprecedented success in terms of customer support, it stands to good reason that now that their subscription numbers are suffering (2 million lost), they will reduce the support staff accordingly.
The real question is whether this will delay Diablo 3 even further. Mike Morhaime was quick to state the company is “continuing to develop, iterate, and polish Blizzard DOTA, Diablo 3, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, as well as other, unannounced projects.”
I guess he listed them in order of release. The DOTA (custom Starcraft 2 map) will probably come out in April-May with Diablo hopefully following in June. It remains to be seen if this is more smoke and mirrors from Mike – after all, he said they are doing EVERYTHING they can to release Diablo 3 in 2011. Obviously, “everything” was not enough.