Xbox CEO Perfectly Responds To Historic Change In Gaming

By Jason Collins | 4 weeks ago

Xbox

In light of Raven Software’s unionization, the first of its kind at the controversial Activision Blizzard (ABK), Xbox CEO Phil Spencer offered a perfect response to a historical change in gaming. This response comes following the previous all-hands meeting held a year and a half ago, during which Spencer stated that he doesn’t have much experience with unions. As it turns out, the head of Xbox took that time to educate himself on unionization whilst doing some corporate homework on behalf of Microsoft.

According to Kotaku, Phil Spencer will support Raven Software and the first North American gaming union. In today’s meeting, Spencer also stated that he, and Linda Norman, Microsoft’s Gaming Division VP, spent some time learning about unions and the importance of unionization. As a result, he also stated that both he and Linda would support the employees’ right to organize and form unions. Spencer also said that Microsoft doesn’t currently have any kind of relationship with Communication Workers of America, or the union, Game Workers Alliance.

This is an important recognition, considering Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which is the most expensive of its kind in the gaming industry, and perhaps the second most expensive in the entertainment industry overall — feel free to quote us on the former, but not the latter. Anyway, Phil Spencer stated that Microsoft intender to recognize the union after the acquisition of Activision Blizzard concluded.

Interestingly enough, though Microsoft previously said that it doesn’t object to Activision Blizzard’s recognition of the Raven Software’s unionization, which ABK initially sought to dispute, this is the first time we heard anyone from Microsoft directly acknowledging the recognition of the union. However, until the acquisition concludes, ABK and all its subsidiaries, including Raven, will continue to operate independently of Microsoft and Xbox.

ABK came under scrutiny following sexual harassment and gender discrimination charges filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing last June, which also unearthed a rather lousy treatment of Quality Assurance workers within the company. Admittedly, this only painted the picture of an entire industry, but ABK workers, particularly those of Raven Software, took the opportunity to fight their parent company for better working conditions and higher wages — something Xbox apparently welcomes.

ABK initially sought to prevent unionization by employing shady means, like hiring union-busting firms. Considering that their efforts to stop the unionization have failed, ABK announced the restructuring of the QA sector, promising better working conditions and better pay to QA workers, including those at Raven. However, had the Raven accepted the offer, ABK would restructure the company and disperse the union-eligible workers, rendering their unionization efforts futile. Luckily, they haven’t, and the union was eventually formed.

As things currently are, the Game Workers Alliance is the first group to unionize under ABK and will most probably remain organized under Microsoft. The latter stated that the studios will retain a greater degree of creative freedom regarding their titles but will ultimately be responsible to Xbox Game Studios and Microsoft’s Gaming Division once the acquisition concludes.