Workers at Activision Blizzard Studio Behind ‘Diablo' Seek to Unionize

    A group of Activision Blizzard Inc. video game testers in New York are petitioning to unionize, expanding labor’s foothold in the gaming industry.
    By: BLOOMBERG
    | Updated on: Jul 19 2022, 23:20 IST
    Activision Blizzard
    Activision Blizzard games "Call of Duty" are pictured in a store in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Files (REUTERS)
    Activision Blizzard
    Activision Blizzard games "Call of Duty" are pictured in a store in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Files (REUTERS)

    A group of Activision Blizzard Inc. video game testers in New York are petitioning to unionize, expanding labor's foothold in the gaming industry.

    Employees at the Activision subsidiary Blizzard Albany are organizing with the Communications Workers of America and asking the US labor board to hold a unionization election, the group said in a statement Tuesday. CWA prevailed in a May election among staff at Activision's Raven Software arm, the first such win at a US-listed game company.

    “There's issues in the video game industry that often go unnoticed because our work is seen as more of a passion instead of a job,” Activision employee Amanda Laven said in the statement. “We know that by having a seat at the table our union will not only give us structure and power, but also give us a path forward to improve our workplace because management won't be able to ignore us all anymore.”

    Microsoft Corp. plans to buy Activision for $69 billion, and the deal is expected to be completed by June 2023 pending regulatory approval. In June, CWA announced a pact with Microsoft Corp. to ease future organizing at Activision. Under that agreement, Microsoft will stay neutral when Activision workers seek to organize, rather than campaigning aggressively against unionization as US companies often do.

    An Activision spokesperson said the company's employees are its top priority. “We deeply respect the rights of all employees under the law to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We believe that a direct relationship between the company and its employees is the most productive relationship.”

    In the union's statement, workers said they want to secure fair pay, better treatment, and job security by organizing.

    Blizzard Albany staff work on the popular Diablo game franchise; their studio, once called Vicarious Visions, was acquired by Activision in 2005 and recently merged into Blizzard.

    Activision's campaign comes amid a wave of organizing at prominent US tech companies, including successful efforts by CWA among New York Times tech workers and sub-contracted Google Fiber staff, as well as victories by other unions at an Apple Inc. store and an Amazon. com Inc. warehouse.

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    First Published Date: 19 Jul, 23:19 IST
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