Raven Software, the studio providing QA (Quality Assurance) for Call of Duty Warzone has said that 40 of their staff would stage a walkout in solidarity with 12 of their employees who were laid off yesterday.
A Better Activision-Blizzard King (A Better ABK), a group calling for changes to Activision Blizzard following the ongoing scandals this year, published a statement on behalf of the 40 developers at Raven Software, which mentions that the laid off employees were in “good standing”, that is to say they hadn’t done anything to incur the layoffs.
“These personnel cuts come after five weeks of overtime, and before an anticipated end of year crunch. The QA team, which at this point in time mainly works on Call of Duty: Warzone so far has been reduced by just over 30%”, the statement reads.
“Those participating in this demonstration do so with the continued success of the studio at the forefront of their mind,” they also say. “The Raven QA department is essential to the day-to-day functioning of the studio as a whole. Terminating the contracts of high performing testers in a time of consistent work and profit puts the health of the studio at risk.”
Given the success of Call of Duty: Warzone, the employees say they walk out with a simple demand, to have their positions converted into full-time ones.
“Call of Duty: Warzone, which recently announced the release of a new map and integration with the Call of Duty: Vanguard title, earns $5.2 million per day”, the statement says.
“In response to the events of Friday, the Raven QA team and other members of Raven’s staff will be walking out with a singular demand: Every member of the QA team, including those terminated on Friday, must be offered full time positions”.
A Better ABK also chimed in, expressing their disappointment in Activision Blizzard’s management over the debacle.
“The termination of high-performing testers, while workload and profits are soaring, is an unacceptable action by the company and contradicts Raven’s goal of being an exemplary workplace in our industry”, they said.
According to reports by Kotaku, QA staff at Raven Software are hired on a Contract basis, without any of the protections of a full-time job. Activision Blizzard has also referred to them as such, with the staff’s removal being seen as a termination of contract rather than firing.
Activision Blizzard has not commented on the layoffs or the walkout directly. However, they have announced that Treyarch, another Call of Duty studio, would be seeing their temporary employees converted to full-time staff positions.
Organized action is rare in the Games industry, which has been struggling to move towards unionization in recent years as public sentiment builds up against abusive practices like Crunch, as well as mistreatment by management in the form of harassment and discrimination.
The walkout by Raven Software is definitely one of the highest-profile instances of this happening, though we’ll have to wait and see if it pays off for the developers.
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