Blizzard staffers agitate against poor worker pay as Activision-Blizzard rakes in billions

It's on my list of 'things you did wrong,' yeah.

Blizzard’s labor practices have been under scrutiny over the last couple of years, propelled in large part due to mass-layoffs at the top of 2019 that coincided with Blizzard’s “historic” $7.5B revenue haul. Apparently, those who survived the layoffs haven’t given up agitating, as a new report on Bloomberg covers the World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch employees’ efforts toward securing what they believe is fair pay.

According to Bloomberg, Blizzard promised to study and overhaul compensation last year, and now that overhaul is in, but disappointed employees are now sharing their wages and wage increases in a secret spreadsheet to compare just how far the company had come. Apparently not far: The majority of raises fell under 10%, much less than expected, given that some staff took on additional duties from their laid-off compatriots; there are even references to staff skipping meals and living on coffee and oatmeal and postponing families because of the poor pay for the Irvine area in the last few years.

“One veteran Blizzard employee told Bloomberg News they received a raise of less than 50 cents an hour. They are making less now than they did almost a decade ago because they are working fewer overtime hours than they did back then. Several former Blizzard employees said they only received significant pay increases after leaving for other companies, such as nearby rival Riot Games Inc. in Los Angeles.”

Blizzard, for its part, insisted that it’s making efforts to pay “fairly and competitively,” citing “consistent” salary investment and touting a “a salary increase that was 20% more than in prior years” for “top performers” (note that’s not a 20% salary increase, just 20% more of whatever the salary increase was before – in other words, if the salary increase for these “top performers” was 1% before, it’s now… 1.2%).

There’s a word I’m thinking of here that would be relevant for the staff right now… starts with a u, sounds like onionization… huh, nope, nothin’. I’m sure it’ll come to me. Heck, at this point, Activision-Blizzard shareholders are mad about the pay disparities too, mad enough that 43.2% of them just voted against the company’s Say-on-Pay policy in rebuke of its excessive c-suite pay in contrast with its poor pay for workers.

We’re expecting Activision-Blizzard’s Q2 2020 financials later this afternoon.

In other Blizzard news this week, the studio announced last night that Gallywix, one of the many orgs that (legally) sell carries and dungeon runs for gold, has now been found to be selling gold for real money, which is still against World of Warcraft’s terms of service. The studio has apparently banned accounts in NA and EU involved in the group’s RMT scheme.

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