Call of Duty: Warzone QA staff strike over sudden layoffs

Update, January 24: Call of Duty: Warzone QA testers have ended their strike after nearly eight weeks.

In a recent tweet (opens in new tab), employee activism group ABetterABK stated that “pending the recognition of our union, the Raven QA strike has ended.” In a follow-up (opens in new tab), the group confirmed that ‘pending’ referred to a response from Activision leadership, and said that “we are acting in good faith and asking for good faith.”

The messaging doesn’t rule out the possibility of a future strike, and ABetterABK noted that funds raised to assist striking workers would be “stored for future organizing/strike efforts.”

The end of the strike comes just a few days after the group’s formation of their GWA union. In unionizing with the Communication Workers of America, the 34 Raven QA staff formed North America’s first major video game union, after the union formed by employees of indie developer Vodeo Games in 2021.

Pending the recognition of our union, the Raven QA strike has ended. Unused strike funds are being stored for future organizing/strike efforts.We’ll post or retweet any GWU updates here. Appreciate all the community support throughout the strike!January 23, 2022

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Original story: Most of the quality assurance team working on Call of Duty: Warzone are striking in protest of a large number of surprise layoffs that began last week.

According to Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier, “most of a team of around 40 QA testers […] are walking off the job to protest a sudden layoff that began on Friday. They say they’ll be walking out until the layoff is reversed.” A statement from the group posted on Twitter via CharlieIntel and Axios reporter Stephen Totilo backed up those claims.

Full statement from the workers group that are walking out today, stating that they want to be offered a full time roll for the amount of work QA testing is. (Via @stephentotilo) pic.twitter.com/drfhJ5YsfhDecember 6, 2021

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In early December, Activision began meetings with several contractors to inform staff whether they would be keeping or losing their jobs from January 28 onwards, with roughly 12 staff – almost a third of the team – being told that they would need to find new jobs in the new year, despite not having underperformed in their roles. This reportedly comes after QA staff were told that Activision was working towards a pay restructure that would see wages increase.

The walkout came just days before the start of Call of Duty: Vanguard‘s integration with Warzone, a mode that Raven is primarily responsible for the upkeep of. Given the difficulties created by the integration with Black Ops: Cold War and Modern Warfare last year, the QA department is likely to prove very important during the transition, meaning this collective action could create substantial difficulties for the start of Warzone’s next era.

The collective action also comes amid a very difficult time for Activision Blizzard in general. The company is facing an ongoing lawsuit (opens in new tab) relating to claims of sexism and harassment, and there have been repeated calls for CEO Bobby Kotick to step down due to his inability to fix the company’s culture during his tenure.

In a statement, Activision said that “we are 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 works across studios that their contracts would not be extended.”

While the first day of action was mostly limited to Raven employees, the following day saw others from across Activision Blizzard join the strike.

Here’s when the Call of Duty: Warzone new map (opens in new tab) is due to drop.

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