Another week, and another walkout for Activision Blizzard, the beleaguered firm at the heart of the harassment scandal gripping the upper echelons of game development. This time, the studio involved is Raven Software, who are responsible for the incredibly successful Call of Duty: Warzone battle royale title that has increasingly come to carry the franchise in recent times.
More specifically, the walkout is in protest of a habit Activision have been guilty of for many years. Put simply, the publishing giants have a long history of posting record profits, only to turn around and make a considerable number of layoffs among the very groups that enabled them to turn such a profit in the first place. The difference is this time, those left behind are angry and empowered.
The main focus of the outrage is the layoffs of a large number of Quality Assurance testers (QA) that were laid off last Friday, somewhat out of the blue if reports are to be believed. Protest group ABetterABK, made up of current and former employees at Activision Blizzard King, spoke on twitter about the walkouts today, as well as claiming the QA employees let go were vital to the day-to-day running of the company.
Those involved, and ABK, claim their goal is not to disrupt, but to continue the growth and success of Raven Software by making sure ‘high performing’ workers are not treated like expendable members of staff. The meetings that led to the layoffs were announced last week, with many contractors called in to discover if they would be converted to full time staff for 2022. According to reporting in Kotaku, some 30% of the workforce has already been informed they won’t be needed beyond the end of their existing contracts, seeing them essentially unemployed from Jan. 28, 2022 onwards.
Raven Software staff claim the news comes on the back of over a month of overtime, with a period of crunch coming up with the end of the year. This move is the latest in a series of decisions taken by Activision that seems to contradict their public commitment to improving working conditions.
The walkout comes just a week after one of the company’s most outspoken internal critics, Jessica Gonzalez, announced her own decision to walk away, not just from Blizzard, but gaming overall over the failure to address the systemic abuse and harassment recorded at Activision-Blizzard over the past decade. As yet, CEO Bobby Kotick and his board have resisted calls to stand down over the scandal.