Today, over 60 Raven Software employees staged a protest and walked out of work. The workers are protesting Activision Blizzard following the company laying off 12 quality assurance testers on Friday. The employees are demanding the quality assurance contractors receive full-time positions. Commenting on the protest, Activision Blizzard said “we support their right to express their opinions and concerns in a safe and respectful manner, without fear of retaliation.”
At least 30 workers at Raven Software, an Activision Blizzard-owned studio, are planning to stop work Monday in protest of their parent company laying off 12 of the studio’s quality assurance testers on Friday. https://t.co/6mNsKCYRiO
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 6, 2021
The layoffs occurred in meetings that started from Friday, December 3 and go on until December 8. About a third of the studio’s quality assurance testers were told they were laid off. “I feel hurt and betrayed,” one Raven Software contractor said. “The majority of individuals who have had their meetings were fired. … Everyone was told ‘You did nothing wrong,’ after being given the bad news.” Evan Avillanoza, another QA tester who was fired said “our team is destroyed and absolutely no one is going to want to work even if they got promoted,” he said. “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.”
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.
Today, one by one, valuable members of the team were called into meetings and told they were being let go.
— Austin O’Brien (@eyyohbee) December 3, 2021
Raven Studio head Brian Raffek told employees that he “didn’t consider the terminations to be layoffs;” instead described them as “temporary employment agreements that weren’t renewed,” according to people who were present at the meeting. Raffel apologized and said that the communication could have been clearer, and that the meetings to hand out terminations took longer than expected due to having to meet one on one with individuals.
In a Monday statement, Activision Blizzard said that it was “growing its overall investment in its development and operations resources,” and that it ended contracts with 20 temporary workers, including the 12 from Raven, across its studios as part of that change. The company also said that about 500 contractors would become full-time employees in the coming months.
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
A Raven quality assurance tester still with the company said “it feels like Activision’s toxic culture is starting to bleed into Raven. The people who were let go seem to have been chosen completely at random, and the rest of us have survivor’s guilt because we know our teammates deserve to still be here. We’re all just incredibly heartbroken.” ““Several of those who were let go recently relocated to Wisconsin in anticipation of the return to in-person work. They did so without relocation assistance from Raven, due to reassurances from the studio that their workload was consistent,” Raven Software quality assurance contractors wrote in a joint news release.
Ever since California sued Activision Blizzard, there have been numerous walkouts and statements criticizing the company. Shortly after news broke of the suit, Employees made plans to walkout. Then, Activision Blizzard faces a number of other charges and suits; an unfair labor practice charge was filed, the SEC subpoenaed the company and launched an investigation, an objection was filed to a settlement that was reached. More recently, a new report revealed that CEO Bobby Kotick knew about the allegations against the company, which led to another walkout. Following the recent report, Activision Blizzard received criticism from PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, and the ESA. The community and several members of the board also called for Kotick’s resignation as CEO.