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The folks over at Polygon are reporting that a number of people who lost their jobs as Xbox Support staff early this year have since seen some of their former duties taken over by unpaid participants in the Xbox Ambassador program.
This is potentially a big deal because some of the former employees (kept anonymous by Polygon) allege that they helped to train Xbox Ambassadors before they were laid off, with one source claiming that they were specifically tasked with increasing the Ambassadors' input on Xbox support issues.
If that's true, it sure looks like Microsoft cut some support staff (reportedly around 12, all hired through IT consulting firm Affirma Consulting) and replaced them with unpaid labor in the form of Ambassador participants.
The Ambassador program has been around for years, and offers participants the promise of potential prizes and recognition in return for help with solving Xbox customer support queries. You must have, among other things, an active Xbox Live Gold membership and over 1500 Gamerscore to be an Ambassador.
Gamasutra has reached out to Microsoft for confirmation and clarification of this issue. As always, if you or someone you know was affected by this you can email Gamasutra to share your story confidentially.