Activision Blizzard Converts QA Testers To Full Time With Pay Increases


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Activision Blizzard has announced that it is converting all of its US-based temporary quality assurance (QA) employees — approximately 1,100 people — into full-time employees. It also increases their hourly rates to a minimum of $20, starting April 17, and gives them access to benefits.

The company provided GamesBeat with two copies of emails sent to employees. Activision Publishing COO Josh Taub said, “QA has been and will continue to be critical to our development success. We have great QA teams working hard to make sure our players have the best gaming experiences possible – thank you!”

He added: “As Call of Duty evolves, we anticipate periods when the workload will fluctuate and exceed the bandwidth of our expanded team. With this in mind, we are adding additional support for our team from external partners. This is a long-standing practice in the studio and industry that will give us greater flexibility and capacity to support business needs and allow our internal teams to focus on the outcomes that will have the most impact on our business.”

Mike Ybarra, head of Blizzard, said in a separate email: “I want to thank everyone who helped me educate and shared their thoughts on how we can make Blizzard the best player-centric game studio. We all know that QA is a integral to our success in ensuring the best possible gameplay experiences.”

Activision’s QA testers demanded change

This is part of an ongoing story within the company about its QA testers. Raven Software, a studio owned by Activision, fired several of its QA employees last December. This is despite the fact that the game they were working on, Call of Duty: Warzone, was one of the most important and lucrative in the company’s library.

Raven’s QA team went on strike shortly after, forming the Game Workers Alliance (GWA) union in January. Activision Blizzard reorganized the division within days, reportedly in an attempt to split the unionizing team members (the company said it was an employee decision taken months earlier). It also refused to recognize the union. The GWA demanded better pay, transparency and more stable working conditions.

Notably, the union workers also demanded that Activision re-hires the 12 Raven workers it had previously fired as full-time employees. At the time of writing, it is not clear whether these employees have been rehired.

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