Activision-Blizzard make GWA U-turn as unionization moves a step closer

▲Image: Bobby Kotick, credit Thomas Hawk

In something of a u-turn from their previous position, Activision-Blizzard-King (ABK) have now reportedly said they will recognise the Game Workers Alliance (GWA), based on a leaked memo from CEO Bobby Kotick. The GWA is a union set up by Quality Assurance (QA) employees of Raven Software to represent employee rights, which the publishing giant had initially dismissed out of hand.


The sudden about face may be a result of ABK’s attempt to get regulatory approval for Microsoft’s ongoing takeover of the company, which is set to drag on until the middle of 2023. The deal is worth $70bn, if completed, and would be the biggest in gaming history.


It follows Microsoft president Brad Smith’s statement last week where he said of the union issue, “We are committed to creative and collaborative approaches with unions when employees wish to exercise their rights and Microsoft is presented with a specific unionization proposal,” 


A positive step

It was confirmed in an email shared by Dexerto on Twitter, addressed from ‘Bobby’, which is almost certainly Bobby Kotick, the beleaguered head of the Call of Duty makers. Either way, the news is a positive step for a group of employees who have long fought for their rights, and may also act as a watershed moment, encouraging others to take similar action. 


▲ The memo sent to ABK staff


As mentioned, just a few weeks ago ABK had dismissed the GWA’s case, stating they “believe that an important decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of roughly 350 people should not be made by 19 Raven employees.” This followed a statement in December where employees called working conditions untenable, and accused ABK of “breaking the trust” between the company and their employees.


Many will speculate that this move comes from Microsoft more than ABK due to the tone the two companies have taken in response to the ongoing scandal, but that can only be positive with the company set to assume full control of ABK in the next twelve months. Equally, this is only the start of negotiations, with what is likely a long and difficult road ahead of the GWA if they want to achieve their goals.

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