After a number of layoffs at Raven Software, the studio best known for Call of Duty: Warzone, in December, some Activision Blizzard employees walked out in protest. The strike has continued, and members of the Raven QA department have sent a letter to Activision Blizzard leadership asking for a response to their demands.
“Monday January 3 is the start of the third work week in which employees are striking in solidarity with 12 members of QA whose contracts were terminated,” the letter begins. “We have not had any communication from leadership about our singular demand: All members of the Raven QA department must be offered full time positions, including those who were let go.
“We have emphasized that our demonstration is done with the best interests of the studio (and all projects on which the studio works) in mind. The downsizing of the Raven QA department without input from anyone within the department is concerning to us and others throughout the company. In the interest of making positive change for Raven, we would like to reach out to leadership to discuss the current situation.”
In a public statement in December, Activision Blizzard simply said it was “converting approximately 500 temporary workers to full-time employees in the coming months. Unfortunately, as part of this change, we also have notified 20 temporary workers across studios that their contracts would not be extended.”
Today is the third week in which employees across the company are striking in solidarity with Raven QA in response to surprise layoffs. Having had no response from our leadership, Raven QA sent the following letter earlier today. #WeAreRaven pic.twitter.com/e9AjbpuiJN
— ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) January 4, 2022
Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit filed in July by the state of California (since expanded for QA and customer service contractors) alleging years of discrimination and harassment. Since then, CEO Bobby Kotick has called the company’s initial response “tone deaf”, employees have staged a walkout, Blizzard president J Allen Brack has left, and the ABK Workers Alliance has demanded change at the company. The lawsuit is ongoing; follow the latest developments here.
In September, an agency of the US federal government opened an investigation into Activision Blizzard’s response to sexual misconduct and discrimination complaints from its employees, as part of which Kotick has reportedly been subpoenaed. The company is also facing a separate unfair labour practice suit alleging “worker intimidation and union busting” filed by a workers’ union, also in September. In another, separate development, Activision Blizzard reached an agreement with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “to settle claims and to further strengthen policies and programs to prevent harassment and discrimination”. In a subsequent letter to employees, the company has announced an end to forced arbitration, a $250 million initiative to improve diversity, and a major pay cut for Kotick.
A new report published this November now alleges Bobby Kotick knew about and suppressed reports of sexual misconduct. Kotick has responded with an official statement saying the Wall Street Journal’s article “paints an inaccurate and misleading view of our company, of me personally, and my leadership.” In reply, Activision Blizzard’s board of directors declared it “remains confident” in Kotick’s leadership.