Activision Blizzard has laid off at least a dozen Raven Software contractors who test games for quality assurance as part of a studio restructuring. More contractors will be informed over the next few days if they have been laid off too, current employees told The Washington Post.
Workers that are promoted to full-time will receive $1.50 per hour raises, moving to an hourly rate of $18.50. They’ll also receive more benefits and bonuses, employees said they were told.
“I feel hurt and betrayed," said one Raven Software contractor who was informed on Friday he had been laid off. He and other Raven Software contractors spoke with The Post on the condition of anonymity, stating a desire to continue work in the video game industry. “The majority of individuals who have had their meetings were fired. ... Everyone was told, ‘You did nothing wrong,’ after being given the bad news."
I am gutted right now. My friends in QA at Raven were promised, for months, that Activision was working towards a pay restructure to increase their wages.— Austin O'Brien (@eyyohbee) December 3, 2021
Today, one by one, valuable members of the team were called into meetings and told they were being let go.
Evan Avillanoza, another Raven QA tester, was told on Friday they were laid off and said their project lead had been kept in the dark about the layoffs. Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to comment.
“Our team is destroyed and absolutely no one is going to want to work even if they got promoted," Avillanoza said before. "I was looking to leave because of the reputation Activision has had lately and I don’t want to support the company any longer. ... It’s an embarrassment working for Activision, in my opinion.”
Activision Blizzard made over $2 billion in revenue within three months, it said in a November earnings call. The company has recently been under fire on several fronts however, initially stemming from a gender discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Its CEO, Bobby Kotick, was the subject of a recent Wall Street Journal report that stated he knew about sexual misconduct claims at the video game company but failed to inform its board of directors.
January 28 is the last day for contractors who are being terminated, but they have the option of exiting the company earlier, which some are choosing to do.
The company told quality assurance testers at certain studios across the company Friday that Activision Blizzard has ended its contract with staffing partner Tapfin and will expand its contract with Volt, another staffing provider, so that current testers at some studios will now become Volt employees.
Quality assurance testers across the games industry have spoken up in the past about dismal work conditions, an unwillingness from companies to promote them to full-time roles, the volatility of the job, as well as the stigma that their jobs are simply playing video games. Testers check games for bugs and glitches, often playing specific parts of games ad nauseum, and are often paid state minimum wage.
“Most Activision employees know we are expendable, but whenever they lay off folks, it’s just a big reminder,” said a quality assurance tester for Activision who has not been told if she is part of the layoffs.
We watched in shock today as our peers at Raven lost their employment in real time. With all of our efforts to improve the lives of our contractors, this is a great wound for all of us--and an incredible break of the trust the company has asked us for. Know we stand with you.🧵— ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) December 4, 2021