Activision Blizzard is converting over 1,000 QA employees into full-time employees

Activision Blizzard announced that all “temporary and contingent” quality control workers at its Activision Publishing and Blizzard divisions, a group of “nearly 1,100 people”, will be converted from contractors to full-time employees on July 1. the hourly wage for most of these positions will be increased to a minimum of $20, and that new employees will receive “full company benefits” and be eligible for their bonus plan.

“Across Activision Blizzard, we’re bringing more content to players across our franchises than ever before,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said in an email sent to PC Gamer. “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 our Quality Assurance team members are a critical part of our development efforts. .”

The move comes after employee unrest sparked by a July 2021 lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleging widespread harassment, discrimination and a frat boy culture in the company. This has led to calls for the removal of CEO Bobby Kotick and ongoing syndication efforts that began in earnest last year when Call of Duty developer Raven Software’s QA team left work to protest a round of planned layoffs of contract workers. activision pushed back but could not stem the tide, and the Game Workers’ Alliance— the first video game industry union at a major US studio — was announced in January.

One problem is that Raven Software’s unionized quality assurance employees will not receive the base salary increase “due to legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said. Bloomberg (opens in new tab). The specific legal obligations in question were not specified, but the National Labor Relations Board forbids (opens in new tab) give employee benefits “during a union organizing campaign to induce employees to vote against the union”, which is a likely justification. If the union is recognized, Activision Blizzard will be prohibited from making changes to the payment without negotiating with union representatives; base pay will be one of the major themes of this first contract negotiation, if it happens.

Activision Blizzard has chosen not to voluntarily recognize the union, but it can still be formalized through the US National Labor Relations Board; Microsoft, which announced its intention to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in January, later said that “won’t get in the way” if the union is finally recognized.

Converting all of Raven’s quality control workers to full-time employees was one of the demands made by strikers when the shutdown first occurred, and this company-wide shift goes beyond that: Activision Blizzard has confirmed that these 1,100 Converted quality control positions are at the top of 500 jobs that have previously pledged to transition from contract to full-time. The conversion will increase Activision Publishing’s full-time staff by 25%.

“Over the past two years, Call of Duty has expanded and evolved,” Josh Taub, COO at Activision Publishing, said in an email to employees. “Our development cycles have moved from an annual release to an ‘always on’ model. In response to increased engagement, we’ve grown our live services business across all platforms. Our offerings now span season passes, operators and the amazing content available We’ve also increased our workforce and support across our studios, as well as exciting new plans for mobile.

“In light of these changes, and as we look to our ambitious plans for the future, we are further refining how our development teams work together. Quality control is, and continues to be, critical to our development success. of incredible quality at places that work hard to ensure our players have the best gaming experiences possible – thank you!”

Taub added that “extra support” for quality control will still be brought in from outside companies as needed. Blizzard boss Mike Ybarra also sent a message to employees about the change.

“Our ability to deliver great games at the level of ‘Blizzard quality’ our players have come to expect is vital to ensuring we exceed player expectations,” Ybarra wrote. “Over the past six months, I’ve had the opportunity to listen and interact with members of our QA team and we’ve had several meetings where I’ve outlined my philosophy on contracts/full-time roles. I want to thank everyone who helped educate me and expressed their opinions on how we can make Blizzard the best player-focused game studio. We all know that quality control is critical to our success in ensuring the best gaming experiences possible.”

The Game Workers Alliance and ABK Workers Alliance (a broader group of Activision Blizzard employees) have yet to comment on the announcement – we’ve reached out for comment and will update this article when we learn more.

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