We don’t often hear that gaming companies employ a massive number of people. A few hirings over the course of the year is entirely normal in the gaming industry, especially during the pre-production and development stages. Unfortunately, massive layoffs within the industry are too common, so we initially thought Activision Blizzard was being blackmailed into hiring 1,100 temporary and contingent quality assurance positions to full-time jobs.
However, we deduced that there isn’t much blackmail material surrounding the company upon careful consideration. Malicious entities usually use drugs, alcohol, or sex-related scandals to perform massive blackmail schemes, whether physical or corporate. However, nearly all skeletons hidden in Activision Blizzard’s closet fell out after the discrimination and sexual misconduct lawsuit of last year. Making another such claim would be another Tuesday news surrounding the company. Admittedly, the company cleaned its act up, and now, according to Polygon, they’re hiring.
Activision Blizzard’s Mike Ybarra announced that the company would convert all its US-based temporary and contingent quality assurance (QA) positions to full-time jobs, increasing the pay for nearly 1,100 workers to at least $20 an hour. It will also grant said workers access to bonuses and full benefits — for the lack of which the company was heavily criticized in the past. In addition, the company’s head publicly acknowledged QA stall as crucial to development efforts, which is a win for QA workers across the entire industry.
The conversion of the said workforce, which was temporary and regarded as expendable and easily replaceable, will increase Activision Blizzard’s full-time workforce by 25%. In addition, of course, both Blizzard Entertainment and Activision Publishing have stated that they will continue to collaborate with “external partner support” during workload spikes that may exceed the in-house team’s bandwidth. But, and there’s always a “but” lurking around the corner; while this news is great, it also points towards foul play.
The newly added 1,100 full-time workers are added on top of 500 new full-time employees converted last year. However, those 500 didn’t include 20 temporary workers, 12 of which worked on Call of Duty: Warzone at Raven Software, one of ABK’s subsidiaries. This kicked off a strike at Raven Software, and QA’s union push culminated with a hearing during which Activision Blizzard leaders were accused of hiring union-busting firms.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any Raven Software QA team members included in the 1,100 newly converted full-time positions, and their workers won’t receive the same benefits, despite working at a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard. The gaming giant stated that the ongoing situation at Raven Software is limited only to Raven, which Union members characterized as an attempt to divide the workforce and undermine official Union formation.
However, Activision Blizzard might be clear on this, at least from a legal perspective. During election petition periods, which are currently happening at Raven, the law prevents an employer from extending any new benefits to employees who are going to be voting — which is only fair. The company even cited an actual law code, and associated cases, calling out the Union for blaming the company for complying with the law that actually protects both the employees and the company.