More than 60 developers at Call Of Duty: Warzone studio Raven Software reportedly held a walkout yesterday to protest Activision laying off quality assurance testers. On Friday, the studio let 12 contractors go due to restructuring, which is said to be around a third of the QA team.
"This has not only destroyed the morale of our workforce, but obliterated trust in the company that has been routinely asking us for patience in improving our work lives," said employee group ABetterABK.
The Washington Post report that meetings are still being held up until tomorrow, December 8th, for QA folks to find out whether they're being let go or promoted. They say the project lead had been kept in the dark about the layoffs.
"I feel hurt and betrayed," one Raven contractor told the Post. "The majority of individuals who have had their meetings were fired. ... Everyone was told, 'You did nothing wrong,' after being given the bad news."
"Our team is destroyed and absolutely no one is going to want to work even if they got promoted," another tester said. "I was looking to leave because of the reputation Activision has had lately and I don’t want to support the company any longer. ... It’s an embarrassment working for Activision, in my opinion."
These layoffs come just one month after Activision Blizzard reported in their November earnings call that they made over $2 billion in revenue between July and September. Raven's redundancies are another blow to the company that's consistently come under fire this year for alleged harassment, discrimination, and shocking workplace culture.
"We watched in shock today as our peers at Raven lost their employment in real time," ABetterABK said on Friday. "With all of our efforts to improve the lives of our contractors, this is a great wound for all of us - and an incredible break of the trust the company has asked us for. Know we stand with you."
Activision responded to the cuts in a statement to Eurogamer, saying: "Activision publishing is growing its overall investment in its development and operations resources. We are converting approximately 500 temporary workers to full-time employees in the coming months. Unfortunately, as part of this change, we also have notified 20 temporary workers across studios that their contracts would not be extended."According to the Post, more than 60 Raven staff participated in a work stoppage and virtual walkout yesterday in protest of the layoffs. 20 people across Activision's studios are said to have lost their jobs, including the 12 from Raven. ABetterABK said that they have one demand, that every member of the QA team, including those let go, be offered full-time positions:
"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."
"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.
"The goal of this demonstration is to ensure the continued growth of Raven. Everyone participating in today's demonstration does so with the continued success of the studio at the forefront of their mind.
"To our leadership, we hope you'll abide by our policy to lead responsibly. To our community, we hope you'll join us today in demanding better working conditions for QA in the industry."
This is the third walkout from an Activision Blizzard studio this year. The first took place in July, shortly after ActiBlizzard were first sued for alleged harassment and discrimination. Then last month, staff held another demanding CEO Bobby Kotick's removal, after a Wall Street Journal report unearthed more disturbing allegations.