Update, 4:25 p.m., 4/7/22:
GamesIndustry.biz asked Activision Blizzard if former Raven Software contractors laid off in December would be rehired as a result of this conversion and an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told the publication, “This conversion of nearly 1,100 workers from QA at Activision and Blizzard has no relation to the ongoing petition at the Raven studio. Raven’s situation is limited to Raven. Testers whose contracts have not been extended were then and now welcome to apply for any job in the company.
Asked by Bloomberg If current Raven workers receive new wage initiatives as a result of today’s news, Activision Blizzard said they will not “due to legal obligations under national labor relations law. work”.
“That Raven workers are choosing to unionize has nothing to do with wage increases elsewhere for Activision’s quality assurance workers,” the spokesperson said. Bloomberg.
Fanbyte received a statement from Game Workers Alliance (CWA) Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens calling Activision Blizzard’s exclusion of Raven QA workers from this new wage initiative “an effort to divide workers and undermine their efforts to form a union”.
Here is the statement Fanbyte received, in full:
“Make no mistake about it, all credit for Activision Blizzard’s latest decision to give all temporary and contingent QA team members full-time employment and a raise should go to workers who have organized, mobilized and spoke out. It’s especially infuriating when Activision has excluded Raven Software QA workers, who have been at the forefront of this effort, of these benefits. that national labor relations law prevents them from including Raven workers is clearly an effort to divide workers and undermine their efforts to form a union (Game Workers Alliance – CWA). is further proof of the need for workers to have a protected voice at work. We urge Activision Blizzard to rectify this situation and respect the protected right of workers of Raven QA to organize under the law.”
Original story, 3:28 p.m., 4/7/22:
Activision Blizzard has announced that it has converted all US-based QA testers to full-time employees, giving them access to all benefits and hourly wage increases.
This news comes from Charlie INTEL on Twitter, which released a statement from Activision Blizzard and an internal company email regarding today’s news. In the statement, it is revealed that nearly 1,100 QA team members in temporary and contingent – contract – roles will be converted to full-time employees starting July 1. The minimum hourly rate for these employees will be increased to $20 per hour, effective April 17. and they will have access to all company benefits and the ability to participate in Activision Blizzard’s bonus plan.
This news comes months after 34 Raven Software QA employees attempted to unionize after weeks on strike in response to laid-off workers and the treatment of general contractors in December. Raven Software asked Activision Blizzard to voluntarily acknowledge the union by Jan. 25, but hours after the deadline, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said it declined to do so, citing that both parties could not reach an agreement. You can read more about it here.
“In Activision Blizzard, we are bringing more content to players across our franchises than ever before,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson wrote in today’s news release. “As a result, we are refining how our teams work together to develop our games and deliver the best possible experiences for our players. We have ambitious plans for the future and members of our Quality Assurance (QA) team are a vital part of our development efforts.
Activision Blizzard says this change “follows a process that began last year through AP [Activision Publishing] and Blizzard to convert temporary and casual employees, including 500 at AP studios, to permanent full-time employees. This shift began last year following the layoff of at least a dozen quality assurance contractors at Raven Software, a studio owned by Activision Blizzard. Following the layoffs, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said game informant that he had started converting 500 contract workers to full-time while revealing that 20 contractors had been made redundant.
Along with the public statement shared by Activision Blizzard, Activision Publishing COO Josh Taub sent an internal email to share the news.
“Over the past two years, Call of Duty has grown and evolved,” Taub writes. “Our development cycles have moved from an annual release to an ‘always on’ model. In response to greater engagement, we have increased our live services business across all platforms. Our offerings now encompass Season Passes, Operators and the awesome content available in our stores. We’ve also increased our headcount and support in our studios, as well as exciting new plans on mobile.
“In light of these changes, and as we contemplate our ambitious plans for the future, we are further refining the way our development teams work together. QA is, and continues to be, critical to the success of our development. We have amazing QA teams in place who work hard to ensure our players have the best gaming experiences possible – thank you! I am pleased to announce that we are converting all US-based temporary and contingent workers to full-time employees (FTEs). We are increasing their hourly rate to a minimum of $20/hr and giving them access to all company benefits, and they will be eligible to participate in the company bonus program.
Elsewhere in the email, Taub says Activision Publishing anticipates the ebb and flow of workloads associated with the Call of Duty franchise, the company is adding “additional support to our team from external partners,” citing that “this is a studio and industry practice that will give us more flexibility and ability to meet business needs and allow our internal teams to focus on the results that have the greatest impact on our business.
Blizzard director Mike Ybarra also sent an internal email to employees regarding current events, citing that over the past six months his team has been engaging with his QA team to determine a “philosophy” on contracts and full-time roles.
“Some time ago, QA management began to change their approach to team staffing, converting more temporary and contract workers (TEAs) into full-time employees (FTEs) and using partners to support short-term workload spikes,” Ybarra writes. “Today, this change in approach results in the conversion of all remaining US-based QA AMEs/contractors – over 90 people in Irvine, Austin and Albany – to FTEs. We are also increasing the minimum hourly rate for QA to $20/hour, and they will be eligible for our bonus program and increased benefits.
“We have an incredible quality assurance talent, and I’m very happy to make this change so that we can focus and deliver for players around the world.”
To learn more, read game informant original coverage of the Raven Software layoffs, then catch up on the resulting Raven Software strike, including Activision’s management response.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include context regarding a labor organizing effort at Raven Software that took place in January, as well as new statements received by GamesIndustry.biz, Bloomberg, and Fanbyte.