Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Activision Blizzard gives 1,000 game testers full-time jobs and raises

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Activision Blizzard just announced that all temporary and temporary QA employees from the Activision Publishing and Blizzard divisions will be converted to full-time employees – meaning nearly 1,100 temporary game testers will get full-time jobs with benefits. They will also earn higher wages, with a new minimum hourly rate of $20.

Here’s a full statement from Jessica Taylor, Activision Blizzard’s vice president of corporate communications:

In Activision Blizzard, we’re bringing more content to players in our franchises than ever before. As a result, we are refining 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 a critical part of our development efforts.

That’s why we announced today the conversion of all US-based temporary and temporary QA team members at Activision Publishing (AP) and Blizzard – nearly 1,100 people in total – to permanent full-time employees effective July 1. In addition, we will increase the minimum hourly rate for these team members to $20/hour or more effective April 17. These employees are also eligible to participate in the company’s bonus plan and have access to full company benefits.

This change follows a process that began last year at AP and Blizzard to convert temporary and temporary employees, including 500 at AP’s studios, into permanent full-time employees.

The change follows significant workers’ activism after Raven Software, an Activision studio known for its work on the Duty series, announced in December that it would be firing QA contractors. Some workers went on strike in protest and some have since formed a union, the Game Workers Alliance† We’ve reached out to the Game Workers Alliance for their response to Activision Blizzard’s action.

Epic Games announced a similar decision earlier this year to convert testers into full-time employees.

Activision sent two emails to: The edge that the directors of Activision Publishing and Blizzard sent to their teams this week to notify them of the changes. We’ve included them below:

Email to Activision Publishing US Employees of Josh Taub, Chief Operating Officer of Activision Publishing

From: Josh Taub

Subject line: Update to QA

Team,

During the last two years, Duty has expanded and evolved. Our development cycles have moved from an annual release to an ‘always on’ model. In response to increased engagement, we’ve increased our live services business across all platforms. Our offering now includes season passes, operators and the great content available in our stores. We’ve also expanded our workforce and support in our studios, along with exciting new plans for mobile.

In light of these changes and as we look to our ambitious plans for the future, we are refining the way our development teams work together. QA is and will remain crucial to our development success. We have great QA teams who work hard to make sure our players have the best gaming experiences possible – thank you!

I am pleased to announce that we are converting all US-based temporary and contingent QA employees to full-time employees (FTEs)† We increase their hourly rate to a minimum of $20/hour and provide access to full company benefits, and they are eligible to participate in the company’s bonus program.

This change follows the conversion of nearly 500 temporary and temporary employees to permanent full-time employees at Activision Publishing’s studios, and other ongoing conversions that have taken place in recent months.

Such as Duty As the business evolves, we anticipate periods when the workload will fluctuate and exceed the bandwidth of our expanded team. With this in mind, we are adding additional support for our team from external partners. This is a long-standing practice in the studio and industry that will give us greater flexibility and capacity to support business needs and allow our in-house teams to focus on the outcomes that most impact our business.

Together we will change the game and take it Duty to the next level.

-Josh

Email to Blizzard employees from Mike Ybarra, the head of Blizzard

From: Mike Ybarra

Subject: Delivering Blizzard Quality: QA Full-Time Conversions

Hi Blizzard,

We’ve shared with many of you the exciting experiences we’re bringing to players in 2022 and beyond. There is so much happening in our teams – and this is just the beginning of our renewed focus to put our teams and players at the forefront of everything we do.

Our ability to deliver great games at the level of “Blizzard quality” our players expect is vital to ensuring we exceed players’ expectations. Over the past 6 months I’ve had the opportunity to listen to and interact with members of our QA team and we’ve had several meetings where I’ve outlined my philosophy on contract/full-time positions. I want to thank everyone who helped me educate and shared their thoughts on how we can make Blizzard the best player-centric game studio. We all know that QA is integral to our success in ensuring the best possible gameplay experiences.

Some time ago, QA leadership began to shift their approach to staffing the team, converting more temporary and contract workers (TEAs) to full-time employees (FTEs), and using partners to support short-term spikes in workloads. Today, this shift in approach culminates in a conversion of all of the remaining US-based TEAs/contractors in QA – more than 90 people in Irvine, Austin and Albany – to FTEs. We are also increasing the minimum hourly rate for QA to $20/hour, and they are eligible for our bonus program and increased benefits.

We have great QA talent and I am very happy to make this change so that we can focus and perform for players around the world. If you have any questions, please contact me, your HR partner or Wladia Summers.

Thank you for your feedback and for helping us make this change.

Thank you,

Mike

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