Activision Blizzard to convert temporary QA testers to full-time with pay boost

Activision Blizzard has announced that it’ll convert all US-based temporary QA testers to permanent full-time positions and raise the minimum wage to $20 per hour. This comes just a few months after QA testers at Call of Duty: Warzone studio Raven Software staged a walkout and subsequently began unionizing.

The transition, which goes into effect April 17, will move approximately 1,100 temporary employees to permanent contracts and boost Activision Publishing’s total full-time workforce by 25%. An Activision Blizzard spokesperson said that both Activision Publishing and Blizzard Entertainment will still bolster their QA teams with “external partner support” when “workload spikes and exceeds the team’s bandwidth.”

In January, employees at Raven Software formed the Game Workers Alliance (GWA) with help from Communication Workers of America (CWA) following a nearly 8-week strike in protest of the sudden layoff of 12 temporary Raven Software QA testers. Activision Blizzard has refused to recognize the union, but the group is moving forward with plans, recently filing for a union election through the National Labor Relations Board and sending an email to Microsoft asking for its support. In response, Microsoft’s corporate vice president and general counsel, Lisa Tanzi, clarified that Microsoft “will not stand in the way” of unionization efforts, stopping short of committing to recognizing the union.

GamesRadar was provided two internal emails sent to employees this morning. One, from Activision Publishing chief operating officer Josh Taub, starts off by acknowledging a major shift in Call of Duty’s development and release model.

“During the last two years, Call of Duty has expanded and evolved. Our development cycles have gone from an annual release to an ‘always on’ model. In response to greater engagement, we’ve increased our live services business across all platforms. Our offerings now encompass season passes, operators, and the awesome content available in our stores. We’ve also grown our workforce and support across our studios, along with exciting new plans on mobile.

“In light of these changes, and as we look to our ambitious plans for the future, we are further refining how our development teams work together. QA is, and continues to be, critical to our development success. We have amazing QA teams in place that work hard to ensure our players have the best possible gaming experiences – thank you!”

The other email, from Blizzard boss Mike Ybarra, calls QA teams “integral” to the studio’s success.

“Our ability to deliver great games at the ‘Blizzard quality’ level our players expect is vital to ensuring we exceed player expectations. Over the last 6 months, I’ve had the opportunity to listen and engage with members of our QA team and we’ve had several meetings where I outlined my philosophy about contract/full-time roles. I want to thank everyone who helped educate me and expressed their views on how we can make Blizzard the best player-focused game studio. We all know QA is integral to our success in ensuring the best possible gameplay experiences.”

In a separate statement to GamesRadar, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson had this to say:

“Across Activision Blizzard, we are bringing more content to players across our franchises than ever before. As a result, we are refining how our teams work together to develop our games and deliver the best possible experiences for our players. We have ambitious plans for the future and our Quality Assurance (QA) team members are a critical part of our development efforts.”

We’ve reached out to the Game Workers Alliance and the ABK Workers Alliance for statements on today’s news from Activision Blizzard and we’ll update this article if we hear back.

Read up on everything we know about California’s ongoing lawsuit against Activision Blizzard lawsuit.

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