Several members of Raven Software, the developers behind Call of Duty: Warzone as well as other Call of Duty projects, plan to stage a walkout in solidarity with the members of their QA team that were laid off last Friday with little warning. According to reports, this termination of 20 employees was done so that Activision Blizzard could bring on a team of around 500 contractors in full-time positions.
Worker advocacy group A Better ABK has also stated that the 500 positions were at Treyarch, another studio owned by Activision Blizzard. This seemingly creates a working environment where different studios are pitted against each other for resources and employment.
The upset employees at Raven, who plan to walk out, stated that these employees were terminated in a “good standing”, which is simply to state they had done nothing deserving of termination such as underperforming or the committing of a firable offense like theft. Furthermore, only 12 of the terminated positions have been made aware to the company, meaning they are still in the dark about where these other 8 are to be made.
These employees had also been working overtime for the five weeks leading up to their termination, bracing for an “anticipated end of year crunch.” On top of that, many had only recently relocated to Wisconsin as an end to remote work has been anticipated to end soon, all of which they did without relocation assistance from Raven Software. All of this was done due to assurances they had received that “their workload was consistent.”
This team was told multiple times by Raven leadership that there were positive departmental changes coming. These upcoming changes were also used as the reason why no members of the team received standard promotions or raises that were meant to be in place by March of 2021.
Every member of the QA team, including those terminated on Friday, must be offered full-time positions. Those participating in this demonstration do so with the continued success of the studio at the forefront of their mind.
This has just been one in a long list of problematic situations to occur at Activision Blizzard this year. Another walkout was staged earlier this year by developers at Blizzard due to what was referred to as a “frat boy culture” of harassment and sexual misconduct, that lead to several terminations and an ongoing investigation by the State of California. At a later point, more allegations surfaced accusing CEO Bobby Kotick of not only knowing of the harassment and doing nothing but of being part of it as well. He stated he would not leave unless he could inflict meaningful change to the harassment issues, a statement that seems problematic when he is allegedly at the center of them.