Blizzard among first AAA developers to “recognize” unionization
Anyone who follows news and drama in the gaming industry is probably familiar with the fact that a lot of it is related to Activision Blizzard. In fact, there has been so much drama that it was quite difficult to keep up with it at one point.
The company is infamous for treating its employees extremely poorly. Sexual harassment, workplace toxicity, stealing breast milk, and even driving an employee to suicide are just a few extremes of how far down things have gone. With the higher-ups having too much power in the company, and being virtually untouchable, it was only a matter of time until the workers decided to create a union.
Creation of the Game Workers Alliance union
While most of the drama, including all kinds of horrible things was throughout 2020 and 2021, the straw that broke the camel’s back for the employees of the company was somewhere in December 2021, when workers went on a strike to protest planned layoffs.
In January, the QA employees of Activision Blizzard announced that they were planning to form a union.
Of course, Activision Blizzard was resisting these efforts of unionization by declining to recognize the union, which, to be fair, is expected from a toxic company like Activision Blizzard. They actually contested the National Labor Relations Board filing, saying that all employees should be included in the union and not just the QA department, and to their surprise, the National Labor Relations Board still let the union become a thing.
To make the matter for Activision Blizzard worse, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer said that they would accept the union once the deal with Blizzard was completed. Naturally, after the future big boss hinted that they should stop mistreating their workers, the union finally became a thing (which it would have to anyway, due to the National Labor Relations Board, but probably a bit later).
Now the company will actually have to listen and negotiate with the workers at Activision Blizzard, and a lot of employees are actually set to renegotiate their contracts, which is something that they definitely deserve. Activision Blizzard has been quite a horrible company recently, which is quite sad, especially for those that grew up with their games during the era when they were the most amazing company in the world.
GWA being accepted, and what it means for the future of tech companies?
Allowing employees in the tech industry to unionize is a “no-go” for almost every company in the sphere. Ubisoft, Amazon, Riot Games, Alphabet to name a few, were all actively suppressing attempts at workers unionizing for common representation.
Under the safety of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), only a handful of companies have even accepted dealing with unions. In gaming, mostly indie game developers and small game studios were successful. Considering that a union in tech companies was not a thing, Activision Blizzard having the first “accepted” union, might push other poorly treated workers to do the same. Now especially, when they saw that coming out with a victory is not impossible.
Hopefully, that will not be a thing, as that will only prove that Activision Blizzard was not an exception with its horrific practices, but we will have to wait and see.