Activision Subsidiary Raven Software Votes To Unionize As Executives Try To Calm Employees Following Sale

Regarding layoffs, CEO Bobby Kotick said Microsoft is "committed to trying to retain as many of our people as possible."

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor January 21, 2022
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Activision Building

It's been a slightly busy week for all things Activision Blizzard. You already know about the sale to Microsoft, which apparently won't lead to Xbox exclusivity for titles like Call of Duty and Overwatch (for now), but the headlines keep coming, and we thought we'd sum them all up for you on a Friday afternoon:

  • Activision CEO Bobby Kotick hosted an online chat with employees yesterday morning, where he discussed the future of the company and addressed employee questions. As detailed by the Washington Post, Kotick said that he would be staying with the company "as long as is necessary to ensure that we have a great integration and a great transition" and that Microsoft is "committed to trying to retain as many of our people as possible." He also said that Microsoft admired Activision Blizzard and wanted to use the acquisition as a way to get into the metaverse.

    His words did little to assuage employees' fears of layoffs, and, according to one employee present, didn't serve much of a purpose at all. "With no mention of the strike, the lawsuit, or any of the continuing issues, there may as well have not been a Q&A at all. We could’ve read a press release and slept an extra 15 minutes."

  • Speaking of the strike at AB subsidiary Raven Software, it may be coming to an end soon. 78% of eligible workers at the Call of Duty: Warzone developer have voted to form a union, the Game Workers Alliance. A statement on the newly formed group's website pointed out several of the reasons for the unionization, which included not only the layoffs but also crunch conditions, lack of income parity, relocation requirements, and "continued cultural and ethical conflicts currently circulating the company as a whole." The group expects to hear back from Activision leadership by January 25; if it doesn't, then it will file for election with the National Labor Relations Board.

  • Finally, late last night, "Putting Our Teams and Players at the Forefront of Everything We Do" was posted to the Blizzard website -- ostensibly written by President Mike Ybarra, but that's no guarantee when we're talking about messaging from Blizzard. It laid out all the usual talking points, about how the company is "listening" and "committed to change" by adding new employees and new departments, and insisting that accountability applies "to all employees at Blizzard, including leadership and management" -- a clear falsehood, as long as Bobby Kotick remains unpunished. Not to mention that another executive will probably issue a statement about how whistleblowing or unions are bad in the next week or two, undermining the implied positivity of Ybarra's statement.

    Ybarra also said that the company needed "to deliver content to our players on a more regular basis and innovate both in and beyond our existing games" and that there would be something "exciting" announced next week. Maybe that part, at least, will turn out to be true.

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In this article: Blizzard, Activison.

About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

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