Gaming Industry Workers Unite: A Look At Unionizations Efforts At Activision Blizzard And Other Publishers

Zinger Key Points
  • Activision Blizzard has three unions, all of which are composed solely of QA workers.
  • Microsoft signed a neutrality agreement with the CWA after announcing its intent to acquire Activision Blizzard.

As the gaming industry expands, unionization is becoming more prevalent among its workers in order to address issues such as long hours, lack of job security, and low pay.

There has also been a rise in union elections and complaints of unfair labor practices, as unionization efforts are being seen at major companies like Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., and Starbucks Corp.

Here’s a list of the unionized video game studios, as reported by Polygon.

See also: Biden 'Proud' Of Apple Workers Joining Maryland Union

Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard ATVI has three unions (all of which are composed solely of quality assurance workers) and two of them were officially recognized through National Labor Relations Board elections.

Workers at the company — known for titles like “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” — organized a walkout of over 1000 employees to protest alleged sexism and harassment in July 2021.

See also: Microsoft's Pending Activision Blizzard Deal Faces New EU Antitrust Challenge: Report

Blizzard Albany

Formerly known as Vicarious Visions, Blizzard Albany was the second within Activision Blizzard to unionize, thanks to the quality assurance workers that won 14-0 in the December 2022 vote. The union is now moving forward to negotiate a contract with Activision Blizzard.

Raven Software

Raven Software was the first studio within Activision Blizzard to unionize in January 2022, after employees organized a walkout to protest “unfair layoffs.”

On its webpage, the union (called Game Workers Alliance), states: “Our focus is on improving the conditions of workers in the video game industry by making it a more sustainable, equitable place where transparency is paramount. Additionally, we advocate for our disenfranchised and minority workers by creating a diverse space to let their voices be heard in solidarity.”

Proletariat

Proletariat, the Boston-based video game developer, was acquired by Blizzard Entertainment in 2022.

Like the other unionized studios at Activision Blizzard, Proletariat is represented by the Communications Workers of America, as per Polygon.

Microsoft

Microsoft Inc MSFT signed a neutrality agreement with the CWA after announcing its intent to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion on Jan. 18, 2022. Even though this could be viewed as an attempt to facilitate the deal through the Federal Trade Commission, it may still benefit Microsoft employees and could be beneficial for Activision Blizzard’s workers in the future.

See also: Microsoft Slashes Workforce After Denying Layoff Plans, Narrows Focus In Response To Macro Pressures: 'It's Showtime'
“As we enter a new year, we remain committed to creating the best workplaces we can for people who make a living in the tech sector. When both labor and management bring their voices to the bargaining table, employees, shareholders and customers alike benefit," Microsoft and CWA said in a joint advertisement.

ZeniMax

The Rockville, Maryland-based company owns publisher Bethesda Softworks.

Three hundred of its workers are unionized under the CWA with the name ZeniMax Workers United, and parent company Microsoft recognizes the union.

Tender Claws

Los Angeles-based Tender Claws announced the creation of the Tender Claws Human Team in July 2022.

The union has recognition from the CWA and the entire proposed unit supported the effort.

Tender Claws is an award-winning indie studio responsible for the game “Virtual Virtual Reality.”

Continue reading: If You Invested $1,000 In Microsoft When The Rock Unveiled The Xbox, You'd Have This Much Now

Photo: by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.

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