Activision Blizzard converts over 1,000 QA testers to full time roles

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Nearly 1,100 U.S.-based temporary and contingent quality assurance workers at Activision Publishing and Blizzard will become full-time employees, effective July 1, Activision Blizzard announced Thursday. The embattled video game publisher, which announced a pending acquisition by Microsoft in January in a historic $68.7 billion deal, also plans to bump up the minimum hourly rate for QA staff to $20 beginning April 17.

The change, which comes with full benefits and access to the company’s bonus program, will increase Activision Publishing’s total full-time staff by 25 percent. It follows the conversion of another 500 temporary and contingent employees to full-time roles at the studio last year.

Blizzard Entertainment President Mike Ybarra said the decision to restructure came after six months of dialogue with members of the QA team.

“We have amazing QA talent, and I’m very happy to make this change so that we can focus and deliver for players around the globe,” Ybarra wrote in an email to staff announcing the news.

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Activision Blizzard’s chief operating officer, Josh Taub, said the increasing demands on staff over the last two years as Call of Duty has transitioned its focus from annual releases to an always on business model, including managing seasons passes and content updates across multiple platforms, also contributed to the decision.

“In light of these changes, and as we look to our ambitious plans for the future, we are further refining how our development teams work together. QA is, and continues to be, critical to our development success,” Taub said in an internal email.

A dozen QA contractors laid off at Activision Blizzard-owned Raven Software in December will not be among those converted to full-time employees. The layoffs sparked an intense internal backlash and led 200 workers from across the company to walk out in protest. In response, remaining employees at Raven Software, which produces games like “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War” and “Call of Duty: Warzone,” have spearheaded unionization efforts, with several dozen members of its quality assurance department requesting recognition from the National Labor Relations Board, which is expected to deliver a ruling in the next few months.

“This conversion of nearly 1,100 QA workers at Activision and Blizzard does not have any relation to the petition pending at Raven studio. The Raven situation is limited to Raven,” said Activision Blizzard VP of corporate communications Jessica Taylor, who clarified that all QA employees at Raven are already full time. The hourly rate changes will also not apply to Raven employees. “Due to our legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act, we cannot institute new pay initiatives at Raven at this time, because they would be new kinds of compensation changes.”

Activision Blizzard employees have staged four walkouts, including one on Monday over its coronavirus vaccination policy, since July 2021, when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the company over claims of widespread gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment.

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