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Activision is sweltering under government-led scrutiny for its alleged problematic working culture. And now, Call of Duty: Warzone developers have staged a walkout in response to the unfortunate treatment of members of the quality assurance team.
Quality assurance, also known as QA, is the side of development which identifies issues with the product from bugs, glitches, spelling and grammar errors, missing or delayed audio, localisation matters, questions over copyright and so on, alerting the relevant team to rectify whatever is out of place with a written report. Once the problem has been solved, the QA tester tests that part of the game again, often across a number of platforms depending on the game, to ensure it actually is solved.
Activision held a number of meetings with the QA team at Raven Software, which is the studio that works on Warzone, and let go to a third of its employees who had previously been promised a pay rise, according to the Washington Post. "I feel hurt and betrayed," said one contractor in an interview. "The majority of individuals who have had their meetings were fired... Everyone was told: 'You did nothing wrong' after being given the bad news."
Raven Software associate community manager, Austin O'Brien, added that a lot of people had moved to Wisconsin specifically for the role. Ergo, to suddenly see more than a handful of employees made redundant after they've handled the expenses of relocating and the oncoming holiday season, is a pretty poor look on Activision's part. Additionally, one employee allegedly asked to be removed from overtime mandates to accommodate for their disability and was denied by HR. In August, it was reported that Warzone generates $5.2 million in revenue every day for the publisher. I think I've hammered that point home enough.
The termination of high-performing testers, while workload and profits are soaring, is an unacceptable action by the company and contradicts Raven's goal of being an exemplary workplace in our industry.— ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) December 6, 2021
“The Raven QA team and other members of Raven’s staff will be walking out with a singular demand,” said Raven Software employees in a statement about their demonstration on Monday. Over 60 people stood in solidarity with the QA testers who lost their jobs. “Every member of the QA team, including those terminated on Friday, must be offered full time positions. Those participating in this demonstration do so with the continued success of the studio at the forefront of their mind.”
In response to this, Activision has stated that it intends to boost its ranks from its reserves of temporary and contract employees. "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," read its statement. Clearly, this does not cancel out the improper treatment of the QA staff who have been let go. At the moment, Activision is also grappling with a lawsuit that claims it was aware of the shocking incidents of sexual harassment and assault that occurred in its offices and from its higher-ups.
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