Activision recently laid off a number of contracted QA testers at Raven Software, with reports revealing that those who lost their jobs had been promised raises repeatedly and had even been asked to relocate prior to that. Many in the industry spoke up in criticism of the company promptly afterward, with many from within the company and Raven Software as well.
Now, Bloomberg reports that most of the employees in the studio’s QA (quality assurance) team are staging a walkout to protest against the layoffs. They sent an email to management at Activision Blizzard, asking for the laid off employees to be reinstated, stating that “those participating in this demonstration do so with the continued success of the studio at the forefront of their mind.”
Activision claims that the 20 contract jobs it’s terminating as part of these lay offs will allow it to move 500 temp workers across the company into full-time employees. Alex Dupont, a QA tester at Raven Software and a spokesperson for the group of striking employees, said to Bloomberg, “My fellow employees are losing their jobs for arbitrary reasons.” He also states that the employees who were laid off weren’t given proper justifications for why they’re losing their jobs.
An Activision spokesperson said about the walkout: “We support their right to express their opinions and concerns in a safe and respectful manner, without fear of retaliation.”
As the team responsible for testing and quality of assurance of Call of Duty: Warzone – a game that is constantly in need of new content, updates, and fixes – a walkout by the majority of those employees could prove to be costly for Activision. Call of Duty: Warzone is a massive money-maker for the company, having generated $2 billion in revenue last year. Activision has expanded Raven Software significantly in order to keep up with the demands of constant support for the free-to-play battle royale shooter.
As Bloomberg’s report points out, collective action is extremely rare to see in the games industry, though this is not the first time Activision Blizzard employees in particularly have demonstrably stood against the company of late. With the company itself and its CEO Bobby Kotick having come under massive pressure following recent revelations of a workplace culture of abuse and harassment, many of its employees have staged multiple walkouts in recent months.