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Activision employees stage walkout (again) over Raven Software layoffs


Welcome to a brand new episode of What Has Activision Done Now? (pic: Activision)

Following the sacking of several Raven Software employees, the studio’s QA team is demanding they all be given full time positions.

Activision’s reputation continues its progress through the U-bend of public opinion, as the fallout from the lawsuit filed by the the state of California – accusing the publisher of fostering a ‘frat boy’ culture – continues to get worse and worse.

The most recent chapter in this whole saga revolves around the sacking of 12 quality assurance (QA) testers at Raven Software, the studio behind Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. According to the Washington Post, their contracts are set to end on January 28, and even more employees could follow suit.

There seems to be little reason for the layoffs as the employees were told that they had done nothing wrong and, while Activision’s reputation has been damaged, it’s hardly floundering in terms of finances.

What’s worse is that the team have been completely blindsided by the news. Raven Software’s own community manager Austin O’Brien says the QA staff were told that Activision would be increasing wages and recently relocated to Madison, Wisconsin (where Raven Software is based) because they were promised consistent workloads.

‘If it isn’t clear, this is bull****,’ he says on Twitter. ‘It’s unfair to these people to string them along, promising something better, and then let them go.’

He’s not the only one frustrated. Evan Avillanoza, one of the QA testers, told the Washington Post that their project lead had been kept completely in the dark about the whole thing.

‘Our team is destroyed and absolutely no one is going to want to work even if they got promoted,’ said Avillanoza. ‘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.’

As a result, Raven Software’s entire QA team, as well as other staff members, are staging a walkout to protest the employees’ termination. Their one demand is that every member of the QA team, including those already sacked, be given full-time positions with the studio.

‘These personnel cuts come after five weeks of overtime, and before an anticipated end of year crunch. The QA team, which at this point in time mainly works on Call of Duty: Warzone so far has been reduced by just over 30%,’ reads a letter shared by the ABK Workers Alliance.

‘This team was told multiple times by Raven leadership that there were positive departmental changes coming. These upcoming changes were also used as the reason why no members of the team received standard promotions or raises that were meant to be in place by March of 2021.’

The letter adds that those who relocated did so with no assistance from the studio and that Call Of Duty: Warzone, which will soon be releasing the new Caldera map and integrating with Call Of Duty: Vanguard, is making $5.2 million a day (almost £4 million).

Responding to the allegations, a spokesperson told Polygon that, ‘Activision Publishing is growing its overall investment in its development and operations resources’.

‘We are converting approximately 500 temporary workers to full-time employees in the coming months. Unfortunately, as part of this change, we also have notified 20 temporary workers across studios that their contracts would not be extended.’

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