In the latest unionisation move, Diablo 4 QA testers at Activision’s Albany studio have been given the green light to vote on forming a union by the National Labor Relations Board.
Unions are often a dirty word in the US. Corporations often do everything they can to stop unions forming. The videogame industry is catching on though and unions are now being talked about more and more.
Activision Blizzard in Albany had been opposed to the move and used the tactic of stating employees in other departments should be part of the vote process and not just QA. This argument was knocked back and the NLRB issued a statement explaining why this argument doesn’t wash.
Comparing the developers’ community of interest to that of the testers I find that the distinct interests of the testers outweigh the similarities that exist with the developers. As noted, the testers participate in the same game development process that includes significant contact and functional integration. However, testers are separately organized in their own department and their supervisory hierarchy is entirely separate from the Diablo franchise. Testers also have a specific set of skills and duties different from the developers. Finally, testers are paid significantly less than developers. Moreover, the evidence of interchange between testers and developers is extremely limited. For these reasons I find any shared interests between the testers and developers do not outweigh the separate interests that make the petitioned-for unit an appropriate unit.
Lulu Cheng Meservey, Activision Blizzard’s ‘executive vice president, corporate affairs and chief communications officer issued a response as seen below. The response was not exactly encouraging as she stated that any issues should be resolved between the employees and the company directly through dialogue.
The problem with his approach is that Activision Blizzard would just have so say “no pay rises for you” and that would be the end of the matter.
Activision Blizzard Respond to Diablo 4 QA testers
New Activision Blizzard union bust just dropped. The irony of the communications channel being locked and they’re still using the “we’d like a direct communication” line. Clown show 🤡 how dare you undermine Game Workers Alliance when ABK refuses to bargain in good faith. pic.twitter.com/aIsBVtdaO5
— Jessica Gonzalez💙✨(she/her) BOOnion lady 👻 (@_TechJess) October 19, 2022
QA departments usually get a rough deal when it comes to pay, but at the same time, many QA testers eventually move up the ranks to other positions within the company if they have the skills. Surely it’s in everyone’s best interest to reward testers with decent pay ans encourage them to stay within the company and develop their skills?
Let’s face it, QA is so important. If you have an ineffective QA department, your product and sales are going to suffer. Cyberpunk 2077 immediately springs to mind and this was covered in a recent article which you can read about here on our sister site.