UPDATE [25/01/2023]: Mike Hume, Editor at The Washington Post who ran Launcher, told Esports Insider that the final day of work for laid-off staff will be March 31st. This article has been updated to reflect this.
The Washington Post will cut 20 of its staff, including five full-time workers at its gaming and esports vertical Launcher, in the latest round of gaming media layoffs.
The Washington Post’s Launcher will be discontinued as five full-time staff members will be let go on March 31st. These are Mikhail Klimentov (Editor), Jhaan Elker (Video Editor), Alyse Stanley (Editor), Shannon Liao (Journalist) and Nathan Grayson (Journalist).
Layoffs in gaming media have been common in recent years. In March 2022, Enthusiast Gaming laid off 11 of its 26 staffers at gaming and esports news website Upcomer, as reported by Digiday. Upcomer was later acquired by GAMURS Group.
In July 2022, esports-dedicated site Inven Global laid off its editorial staff. Two months after that, Tencent-owned Fanbyte laid off nearly its entire workforce. Other projects like G4 TV and VENN struggled to generate enough viewership or revenue to justify high costs, and were eventually shuttered.
The layoffs at the Washington Post are also the latest in a spate of layoffs across esports more generally. American organisation 100 Thieves cut 30 staff — about a sixth of its workforce — earlier this month, as reported by Jacob Wolf. VALORANT and League of Legends publisher Riot Games also cut 46 staff members in January, some of whom were esports or support staff, amid a ‘strategic shift’ for the company. Other organisations such as Dignitas and TSM cut staff members last year.
The Washington Post’s gaming coverage via Launcher began in 2019. It aimed to “hold accountable the leaders and companies that comprise the gaming industry,” as well as to “help bridge the gap between an audience unaware of the modern gaming landscape and those who inhabit it daily.”
The Washington Post was responsible for some of the esports industry’s most impactful reporting in recent years — such as its work on the toxic leadership and workplace culture at TSM.
In addition to the gaming industry, tech companies all over the world have significantly cut their workforces in recent months. A total of 185 tech companies have let go of nearly 58,000 workers in 2023 alone, according to tracking site Layoffs.fyi. Google cut 6% of its workforce earlier this month — around 12,000 people.