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QA testers at Raven Software, an Activision-owned studio, today announced they had formed a union. The union, called the Game Workers Alliance, reportedly includes 80% of Raven’s QA division. They are requesting recognition from Activision Blizzard.
The Raven QA team formed the Game Workers Alliance with Communication Workers of America. Its principles include better transparency, improved compensation, and more sustainable working conditions. According to Raven, this would be the first group of employees within Activision Blizzard to unionize, and it would be one of the first unions in the AAA games industry.
Brent Reel, Raven’s QA lead, said in a statement, “We formed the Game Workers Alliance (CWA) because my colleagues and I want to have our voices heard and we want to see changes that reflect the wants and needs of both the gaming community and the workers who create these incredible products. It’s extremely important that workers have a real seat at the table to positively shape the company going forward.”
Raven employees have been striking for weeks
Activision laid off several Raven Software QA testers last month. Reportedly, it’d previously promised the QA team a more favorable pay structure. Shortly after, some of the workers were laid off, despite a few having recently relocated for the positions. Other Raven Software employees walked out in protest and have remained on strike well into January. At the time of writing, Activision has not rehired the 12 QA testers.
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Erin Hall, QA functional tester at Raven, said in a statement, “Our union will help inform what is best for Activision Blizzard as a company, as a platform for gamers and a workplace where all workers can thrive. The goal of the Game Workers Alliance (CWA) is to represent what we as workers in the industry want as well as set a new standard for workers across the industry moving forward.”
Microsoft announced this month that it was purchasing Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. Raven has primarily worked on Call of Duty games in the last few years, with the biggest game being Call of Duty Warzone.
An Activision spokesperson told GamesBeat: “Activision Blizzard is carefully reviewing the request for voluntary recognition from the CWA, which seeks to organize around three dozen of the company’s nearly 10,000 employees. While we believe that a direct relationship between the company and its team members delivers the strongest workforce opportunities, we deeply respect the rights of all employees under the law to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union.”
Yesterday, GDC released its State of the Industry survey. Among the results, the survey took the temperature of the industry with regards to unionization. According to the survey, 55% of respondents said game industry workers should unionize, but only 18% said they actually believed unionizing would succeed.
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