Last Friday, 12 Quality Assurance testers at Raven Software (Call of Duty: Warzone) were informed that they would soon be out of a job. The layoffs were unexpected, and everyone who was let go was in “good standing,” meaning they had not underperformed or committed any firable offense. The remaining QA testers are now unsure about their future employment status, as Activision has indicated that more cuts are coming. In protest, a group of Raven Software employees (made up of QA testers and others who support them) staged a walkout today.
Layoffs and delayed raises
According to Raven Software Community Manager Austin O’Brien, Activision promised the QA team raises for months. Kotaku’s sources add that they were supposed to receive raises in March but did not, and were told it was due to incoming “positive departmental changes.” After months with no updates, 30% of the workforce was laid off in the first round of cutbacks, and more are expected. Those who survive the layoffs have been told their pay will be increased from $17 per hour to $18.50 along with quarterly bonuses and improved benefits. However, Kotaku’s sources report that a majority of the team will be let go.
Raven Software devs stage walkout
This has prompted the remaining members of the Raven Software QA team to stage a walkout in protest. They are demanding that all QA testers (including those scheduled to lose their job on January 28) be given full-time jobs. In a group statement, the QA team stood behind their laid-off colleagues as “essential to the everyday functioning of the Raven QA team” and noted that the game they all work on generates $5.2 million in revenue every day. They also highlighted the fact that some of the workers had to relocate to Wisconsin for work and were not financially assisted by their employer in the process.
The worker’s alliance A Better ABK also threw their support behind the protest, summarizing the situation in a Twitter thread.
Today Raven QA, as a department, is demonstrating in protest of the layoffs on Friday. Raven QA's team is essential to the studio's day-to-day operations.
— ABetterABK ? ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) December 6, 2021
Live the Raven Software team, A Better ABK stated that the “termination of high-performing testers, while workload and profits are soaring, is an unacceptable action” on Activision’s part.
In response to the walkout at Raven Software, Activision issued the following statement.
Activision Publishing is growing its overall investment in its development and operations resources. 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 workers across studios that their contracts would not be extended.
Obviously that 500 figure is not in reference to Raven Software or its QA team specifically. It’s unclear at this time how many QA testers will be given jobs and how many will be let go. Activision does not seem to be interested in changing course at this time. We’ll keep an eye on the situation to see how it evolves in the coming weeks. This is the third protest staged by employees in the past few months, and without change, it may not be the last.