Taking the leap.
A group of developers at Call of Duty: Warzone developer Raven Software are walking off the job to protest what they see as unfair treatment of members of the quality assurance team who were let go late last week. The group of contractors and full-time employees said in a public statement that they will walk out with a singular demand: Every member of the team, including those who were terminated on Friday, must be offered full time positions.
According to the statement, 12 contractors representing nearly 30 percent of the team were laid off on Friday. According to a Washington Post report, more Raven contractors will be told this week if they are promoted to full-time positions or laid off. Those taking part in the strike vow to stay off the job until their colleagues' positions are restored.
"These individuals were let go in good standing because they had not committed any fireable offense," the group's statement says. After five weeks of overtime, these personnel cuts come before the end of the year.
In the wake of the strike, a spokesman for the company said that "Activision Publishing is growing its overall investment in its development and operations resources." We are converting 500 temporary workers to full-time employees in the next few months. As a result of this change, we have notified 20 temporary workers that their contracts wouldn't be renewed.
"We support the right of the Raven employees to express their opinions and concerns in a safe and respectful manner without fear of repercussions," said a statement from the company.
The Better ABK Workers Alliance, which has organized two previous temporary strikes in protest of harassment allegations, today applauded the promotion of all temporary employees at fellow Call of Duty developer.
"However, in light of recent events, there is no excuse for the company to lay off 30% of Raven's QA department while simultaneously making all Treyarch temporary employees full-time employees," the group continued. While workload and profits are soaring, the company's goal of being an exemplary workplace in our industry is being undermined by the fact that they terminated high-performing testers.
A common problem, an uncommon solution?
Many in the game industry are used to the cycle of contract hiring and layoffs surrounding a major game's release. In one high-profile example, in the early part of the year, hundreds of employees at the company were laid off. There are many similar examples in the industry.
The turmoil that causes developers who pinball from position to position is at the center of the book Press Reset. There's been little to show so far in terms of fully unionized studios, though some developers have started publicly advocating for union protections to help alleviate these issues.
The majority of game workers are in the industry because it's their dream job, and working on games is their passion, according to Emma Kinema. "Unfortunately, that passion can open us up to exploitation by our bosses, because we are simply grateful or content to have the job we have."
Kinema said that outsourcing firms, temporary employment schemes, and low-wage positions of all sorts are essential to the industry as the more publicly visible developers at name-recognition studios. "We need to care about and organize all workers in the industry."