Activision Blizzard just announced that all temporary and emergency QA employees in its Activision Publishing and Blizzard division have been converted to full-time employees — meaning that approximately 1,100 temporary game testers are getting full-time jobs with benefits. They’ll get higher wages, too, with a new $20 hourly minimum.
Here’s a full statement from Jessica Taylor, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Activision Blizzard:
Through Activision Blizzard, we’re bringing more content to players across our franchises than ever before. As a result, we are improving how our teams work together to develop our games and provide the best possible experiences for our players. We have ambitious plans for the future and our Quality Assurance (QA) team members are an important part of our development efforts.
Therefore, today we announced the conversion of all temporary and US-based QA team members at Activision Publishing (AP) and Blizzard – approximately 1,100 people in total – to full-time permanent employees starting July 1. Additionally, we are increasing the minimum hourly rate for team members to $20 per hour or more effective April 17th. These employees will also be eligible to participate in the company’s bonus plan and will have access to full company benefits.
The change follows a process that began last year across AP and Blizzard to convert temporary employees and staff, including 500 at AP studios, into permanent, full-time employees.
The change comes after a lot of worker activity after Raven Software, an Activision studio known for its work on Call of duty Chain, announced in December that it will lay off quality assurance contractors. Some workers went on strike in protest, and some have since created a union, Game Workers Alliance. We have reached out to the Game Workers Alliance for their response to the Activision Blizzard move. Epic Games announced a similar decision to convert testers into full-time employees earlier this year.
Activision has also come under significant pressure in the wake of the California lawsuit filed in July alleging the company fostered a culture of “persistent sexual harassment”. The The Wall Street Journal It reported in November that CEO Bobby Kotik had been aware of allegations of sexual misconduct at the company for years. The lawsuit in California is still ongoing, although a judge recently approved an $18 million settlement with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over its separate lawsuit.
Changes are also taking place in light of Microsoft’s impending $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Activision has provided two emails about changes to the edge Activision Publishing and Blizzard execs sent their teams this week to alert them of the changes. We have included them below:
Email Activision Publishing US employees from Josh Taub, COO of Activision Publishing
WHO: Josh Top
Subject line: Update to Q&A
During the past two years, Call of duty expanded and developed. Our development cycles have moved from an annual release to an “always on” model. In response to greater engagement, we have increased our live services business across all platforms. Our offers now include seasonal passes, operators and great content available in our stores. We’ve also grown our workforce and support across our studios, along with exciting new plans on mobile.
In light of these changes, and as we look to our ambitious plans for the future, we are working to improve how our development teams work together. Quality assurance is, and continues to be, critical to our development success. We have amazing QA teams that work hard to ensure our players get the best gaming experiences possible – thank you!
I am happy to announce that we Convert all temporary and emergency quality assurance workers located in the United States into full-time employees (FTEs). We increase the hourly rate to a minimum of $20 per hour and provide access to full company benefits, and they will be eligible to participate in the company’s rewards program.
This change comes after the conversion of nearly 500 temporary workers and workers into permanent, full-time employees at Activision Publishing studios, and other conversions in progress have occurred in the past few months.
as Call of duty They evolve, and we anticipate periods when the workload will fluctuate and exceed the bandwidth of our expanding team. With this in mind, we are adding additional support to our team of external partners. This is a long-term studio and industry practice that will give us more flexibility and ability to support business needs and enable our internal teams to focus on the outcomes that most affect our business.
Together, we’ll change the game and take it Call of duty to the next level.
Email Blizzard Staff from Mike Ybarra, President of Blizzard
WHO: Mike Ybarra
Subject: Blizzard Quality Delivery: Full Time Quality Assurance Transfers
We have shared with many of you the exciting experiences we offer players in 2022 and beyond. There is a lot going on across our teams – and this is just the beginning of our renewed focus on putting our teams and players at the forefront of everything we do.
Our ability to deliver great games at the level of “Blizzard Quality” that our players expect is vital to ensuring that players’ expectations are exceeded. Over the past six months, I have had the opportunity to listen and interact with members of our Quality Assurance team and have had several meetings where I outlined my philosophy on full-time contracts/roles. I would like to thank everyone who helped in my education and expressed their opinions on how to make Blizzard the best game studio focused on gamers. We all know that quality assurance is an integral part of our success in ensuring the best possible gaming experiences.
Some time ago, the Quality Assurance leadership began changing its approach to team hiring, converting more temporary and contract workers (TEAs) into full-time employees (FTEs), and using partners to support short-term increases in workload. Today, this shift in approach has culminated in converting all of the remaining US QA TEA companies/contractors—more than 90 people across Irvine, Austin and Albany—into full-time employees. We’re also increasing the minimum hourly rate for Quality Assurance to $20 an hour, and they’ll be eligible for our bonus program and increased benefits.
We have an amazing talent for quality assurance, and I’m very happy to make this change so we can focus and deliver the best for players around the world. If you have any questions, please reach out to me, my HR partner, or Wladia Summers.
Thank you for your comments and help us make this change.
Disclosure: Casey Wasserman is a member of the Activision Blizzard board of directors as well as the Vox Media board of directors, the edge main company.