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Several employees at Raven Software, one of the development teams under Activision Blizzard, are walking out to protest layoffs at the company. Several members of the QA team were laid off last week, and other employees are asking that they be reinstated, saying Activision Blizzard had promised them better pay in the future.
The Washington Post reported on the layoffs last Friday, saying that management laid off (or planned to lay off) up to a third of Raven’s quality assurance team. Associate community manager Austin O’Brien shed some more light on it in a tweet chain, saying that Activision promised the QA team better pay following an upcoming pay restructure, only for some to be let go instead. Some had also recently relocated to Madison, Wisconsin. At the time of this writing, some workers still do not know whether they are being kept on or being let go.
Raven Software is the major development team behind Call of Duty Warzone, one of Activision’s staple games. The most recent release, Call of Duty: Vanguard, is due to cross over with Warzone shortly. According to a letter written by the protesting workers to management, Warzone generates $5.2 million a day. Alex Dupont, a member of the QA team, told Bloomberg that the other members who were let go were not given a clear reason for it.
Today Raven QA, as a department, is demonstrating in protest of the layoffs on Friday. Raven QA's team is essential to the studio's day-to-day operations.
— ABetterABK ? ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) December 6, 2021
Activision Blizzard initially responded to the news of the layoffs with a statement that implied that these workers were the unfortunate few whose contracts were not upgraded to a full-time position, but that 500 contract workers would be upgraded eventually.
This is just the latest in a series of problems at Activision Blizzard. Its sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination scandal has continued apace since July, when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the company. More and more employees are coming forward with new reports from within the company. Most recently, a report last month in the Wall Street Journal leveled allegations against CEO Bobby Kotick.
Activision Blizzard employees have walked out during those previous reports in protest of the way the company handled these allegations. Other major figures in the gaming industry, including the heads of all three console manufacturers (Phil Spencer of Xbox, Jim Ryan of PlayStation, and Doug Bowser of Nintendo), have criticized the company’s actions.
The company has also shown signs of problems on the game development side, too. At its recent quarterly report, Activision revealed it was maintaining decent numbers, but it was also delaying two of its most anticipated releases: Diablo IV and Overwatch 2. The company currently has thousands of job openings and seems to be eager to bring in new talent.
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