Raven Software QA Testers Form a Union

This is the first time among major US video game publishers: QA (Quality Assurance) testers from Raven Software, the studio behind the latest Call of Duty and owned by Activision Blizzard, have created a union: Game Workers Alliance.

This is one of the demands of a strike movement that began in early December, following the firing of nearly a third of the Wisconsin studio’s team of QA testers. These involuntary departures are all the more difficult for contract workers to accept as they had been promised wage increases on several occasions in the previous months.

Raven QA testers on strike against wave of layoffs, outside studio headquarters.

Activision Blizzard, whose surprise acquisition by Xbox was announced earlier this week, has been embroiled in legal cases since July following an investigation that found a ‘frat boy’ culture, sexual harassment and discrimination.

In a statement to Techcrunch, the publisher announced that it will take Raven Software’s request into consideration, while putting it into perspective in light of its size within the company and the benefits provided to employees.

At Activision Blizzard, we listen to our employees and provide them with the salaries, benefits, and career opportunities necessary to attract and retain the best talent in the world. In the past two years, we increased the minimum wage for Raven’s quality control employees by 41%, expanded paid time off, expanded access to health benefits for employees and their loved ones, and transformed more than 60% of the staff. Full time employees. – Management of Activision Blizzard, on the creation of the Raven Software syndicate

Hard to be satisfied with such a response, especially given the editor’s history of bullying and the repeated internally toxic behavior that is at the root of the legal proceedings. We can only hope that the takeover bid by Microsoft and the probable dismissal of the current CEO, Bobby Kotick, demanded by the employees for several months, will finally improve this situation.

To establish its new dominant position and make its strategy of buying studios sustainable, Microsoft has every interest in changing Activision Blizzard’s current vision. This must begin by listening to the various players in the community and fully understanding the factors that led to this situation, in order to restore a work environment worthy of the games produced.

I’ll be honest, I don’t have much personal experience with unions. […] So I’m not going to try to sound like an expert on this, but I will say that we will have conversations about what enables you to do your job better, which, as you can imagine in a creative industry, is the most important thing. thing for us. – Phil Spencer (CEO of Xbox Game Studios)

Because if the reputation of the studios does not follow, the informed player will walk away from it. Proof of this is that in the three months following the announcement of the lawsuit, World of Warcraft lost almost a million players.

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