Activision Blizzard will be moving its 1,000-plus quality assurance testers from contract roles to full-time jobs with additional pay raises, following months of activism and unionization from a group of workers (including QA testers) at Raven Studio, the gaming studio that produces Call of Duty.
The company announced that all of its temporary and contingent quality-assurance testers would be offered full-time contracts with a pay increase to a minimum of $20 per hour. Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, converted many of its contract QA testers to full-time last month.
"As 'Call of Duty' evolves, we anticipate periods where the workload will fluctuate and exceed our expanded team’s bandwidth. With this in mind, we’re adding extra support for our team from external partners," Josh Taub, Activision Publishing's chief operating officer, wrote in an email to employees.
A group of workers at Raven Software began the process of forming a union after Activision Blizzard laid off some contract QA testers and offered full-time roles to others in a similar move late last year. Those workers staged a walkout and strike and eventually formed one of the first game-workers unions in the U.S., called the Game Workers Alliance, with the Communications Workers of America in January 2022.
Those same unionized workers may not be given the new benefits and pay raises going to other QA testers, according to Communications Workers of America Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. "The company's assertion that the National Labor Relations Act prevents them from including Raven workers is clearly an effort to divide workers and undermine their effort to form a union (Game Workers Alliance - CWA)," she wrote in a statement to Protocol.
Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in months of scandal following California and federal labor suits alleging the company fostered a work environment that led to a frat-house culture of sexual harassment. While the company reached a settlement agreement with the Equal Opportunity and Employment Commission in late March, it still must face ongoing investigations and suits from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and former employees and shareholders. The company most recently angered employees by ditching its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. After workers organized a digital walkout, Activision walked back its decision.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated when Epic converted QA testers to full-time. This story was updated on April 7, 2022.