A unit of 34 QA testers at Raven Software have formed a union, according to Jason Schreier. These employees make up the newly formed Game Workers Alliance Union.
BREAKING: Testers at Raven Software, a division of Activision, say they've formed a union and are asking for voluntary recognition. The 34-person unit is the first-ever union in the big-budget video game industry. Filed to Bloomberg Terminal, story coming shortly.
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) January 21, 2022
This unionization is a response to what some developers feel are unhealthy work environments. Many AAA developers have been forced into periods of crunch, where teams could work for over 100 hours a week. Burnout has become common in the world of game development.
QA testers often receive the short end of the stick. Many video game QA testers leave the gaming industry all-together due to higher pay in other industries for the same roles. Last month, around a dozen QA testers were laid off by Raven, leading to protests and strikes from employees.
The union is not only a response to working conditions, but also abuse allegations. Activision Blizzard has recently been engulfed in controversy. Many current and former employees detail an environment where harassment is the norm, and little is done to stop it. Women have reported sexual harassment by managers, and a woman commited suicide on a company trip after coworkers began to share explicit photos of her. CEO Bobby Kotick even threatened to kill his assistant who complained about working conditions.
Raven Software is the core developer of Call of Duty: Warzone. They are also a support studio for other Call of Duty projects.
With Microsoft‘s acquisition, there is no telling whether or not the union will continue to exist. Big tech companies such as Microsoft are very opposed to unionization. Multiple former attempts at unionization at Microsoft have led to unionizing member being let go by the company.
This unionization is a first for the gaming industry. So far, it is the first major union at a large AAA developer in the United States. Time will tell if this union will last. Perhaps Microsoft will clean up Activision Blizzard‘s work environment, and employees may no longer see the need to unionize.
Other video game CEOs have given their opinion on unionization in the past. In 2019, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said unionization is hard to imagine because game developers are very well paid. In December, Activision executive Brian Bulatao asked Activision Blizzard employees to consider the consequences of unionization.
Currently, the union is not recognized by Activision Blizzard, nor have they recognized the unions requests. Let us know what your thoughts are regarding this matter in the comments below.
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