QA (Quality Assurance) testers from the Activision Blizzard-owned Raven Software have formed a union in conjunction with the Communication Workers of America. The unit, Game Workers Alliance (GWA), consists of 34 members from Raven Software QA. The first North American games studio to unionize was Vodeo in December, but the GWA marks the first North American union within a big-budget games studio.
“Quality Assurance is an essential part of any software development process,” the GWA said on Twitter. “However, Quality Assurance Testers are consistently undervalued, undercompensated and overworked. We, the Quality Assurance Team at Raven Software, are passionate about creating a work environment in which our profession is recognized for its integral role in the success of game development.”
We, the Quality Assurance Team at Raven Software, are passionate about creating a work environment in which our profession is recognized for its integral role in the success of game development. (2/2)
— Game Workers Alliance 💙#WeAreGWA (@WeAreGWA) January 21, 2022
On Dec. 3, Activision Blizzard laid off 12 Raven Software contractors who had been contracted for QA testing. On Dec. 6, some 60 Raven Software employees walked out in protest of Activision Blizzard. They have been on strike from work ever since, with Activision Blizzard refusing to meet their demands for over a month.
“Immediately after work [in early December], we all got together, some people came over to my house and we comforted one another and we cried together,” Raven Software QA tester Onah Rongstad told the Washington Post. “And then, over the coming days, we got together and said ‘we can’t just be silent about this, we can’t just let this happen,’ and then finally decided to strike. We’ve had a real coming together at Raven QA after the beginning of the strike in early December, and we’re really excited that [we’re creating] this beautiful union as the outcome of this.”
The GWA has called on Activision Blizzard to recognize the union. On Wednesday, an Activision Blizzard filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission stated that, to the company’s knowledge, there was no union or ongoing strike within the company.
The QA testers were mainly responsible for checking for bugs in Call of Duty: Warzone. The strike has resulted in many Warzone bugs left undetected and unfixed, leading to public complaints from high-profile Call of Duty personalities such as YouTuber and streamer James “JGOD” Godoy.
Activision Blizzard has been mired in controversy over the past year. Recently it was announced that Microsoft would acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion sometime between June 2022 and June 2023; the largest gaming acquisition deal in history. Raven Software will be one of the properties included in the deal.