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

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

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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Bluxwave

There is no blizzard left at Activision-blizzard.

So dont call it that

Just call it Activision.

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Bruno Brito

Are we still on that? Blizzard has been owned by Activision for quite a long time. Since Wrath, if i recall correctly.

Blizzard’s downfall was brought by their own hands. Stop giving them this benefit of the doubt.

Dantos
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Dantos

Partially chicken and egg problem. All the big tech and game companies are in the same area where all the talent is, leading to huge housing demand and huge cost living. All the talent is in the same area because that’s where all the big companies are.

Hopefully with work from home quickly becoming more acceptable people can live in places where it would be more practical. Also, if some of these companies moved to places with lower cost of living they could still pay workers the same, charge the same for the products, but offer a better quality of life leading to happier workers.

In the end, however, this is going to be on the workers to unionize and/or realize that the passion isn’t worth sacrificing their lives for such little pay when they could get paid much, much more working outside the game industry doing similar jobs. The guys at the top are NOT going to change, and I doubt enough consumers will either.

But game time/keys/swag being counted as compensation? (when im sure they weren’t given a choice between that and cash) *gag*

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memitim

That these huge companies don’t have unions is something I can only describe as madness…

Godnaz
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Godnaz

The worst kind of gamers are those who rail against worker injustice on every other game developer except the main game they play. I hope you see this my WoW friends.

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Greaterdivinity

I miss when Blizzard was one of the shining champions of gaming, doing right by gamers and employees, enjoying one massive hit after another.

Those were good times. It’s a shame they’re gone.

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Bruno Brito

Did those times even exist? I mean, we did think of them like that, but as i started following gaming news more and more, i found out they were complete scumbags for a while now. And i mean, like, a while while.

Wasn’t there the whole debacle where they were firing people and rehiring them to avoid paying benefits?

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Axetwin .

The only difference between now and then is we now have a better idea of what goes on behind closed doors. But the concept of underpaying, forced crunch and firing and rehiring employees so you can avoid pay raises isn’t anything new. It’s always been there it’s always been kept quiet.

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Bruno Brito

The entire industrial revolution was based on crunching and underpayment.

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Robert Mann

Just normal modern corporate behavior. History is waiting for the heads to roll once more. :(

Sad to say, but home costs alone are at a point across most ‘developed’ nations where the conditions are an indicator of bloodshed.

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Bruno Brito

I know people here won’t agree with me, but to me, Capitalism fosters that behavior.

There’s an entire theory about how capitalism is the lack of state and a self-regulated market that ends up being benefical to everyone because “CoMpEtItIoN” but that never stopped being merely utophic thinking for me.

I mean, i don’t think any major corporation wants to be under no law, no protection from other major corporations. I’ve never seen banks liking competition. Verizon and Comcast surely don’t.

Nah. Corporations want the complete control of the area they operate. Hence why they develop into oligopolies, or monopolies. And while being regulated by the state is a bother they put up with it, they also enjoy the lobbying benefits and the protection the state offers.

Techno Wizard
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Techno Wizard

Big story if it escalates.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

It’s the Big Lie. Salaries are ‘competitive’. When you see this, duck. It basically means everybody in the same industry shares their salary tiers with everyone else in their little club and adjusts so that nobody is substantially higher than anyone else.

Big companies have been doing this for decades to suppress wages. During the 80s, salary increases were normally 10-15%. Now they are 1-3%. Why? Because corporations agreed at their roundtable conventions not to pay more than 3%. So now 3% is standard. It’s been 3% since 2000. For 20 years. Despite the astronomical increases in executive pay, you down in the trenches, who fire the engines of wealth, are getting nothing but table scraps.

At the same time, the obscenely wealthy have been doing all they can to vilify the U word, with some stupid help from some stagnant Us themselves. Consequently, in America, fewer workers have protections than ever before, and their pay and work conditions show it.

So when you see an article where a company claims, “Oh, you know, it’s standard in our industry,” just know the fix is in.

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johnwillo

It’s 3% on good years. I can’t tell you how many times there were no raises because “profits were down,” even though the company made millions.

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Bruno Brito

Hell, Kotick fired 800 people before announcing a historical high.

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Dro Gul

If they are paid less than market value why not move to a company paying market value? It’s all about supply and demand. They pay that much because the market is full of people willing to take it. At my company they literally have upped starting pay for hourly employees by 50 percent over the last 3 years. This wasn’t because it was the “right” thing to do. It was because we couldn’t get enough people at the old rate and if we could the turnover was high.

Now one thing I would support is limiting offshoring of many tasks. As well as limiting H-1B visas which are taken advantage of to import cheap labor.

We have to smarten up as a nation and stop getting taken advantage of. Just artificially raising the pay of EA employees isn’t going to help in the long terms as those jobs will be sent overseas or given to folks here on a visa. That’s reality.

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dreamer

We can’t have a “smart” conversation about these things: any talk of limiting or tightening up immigration is met with backlash; any suggestion of punishing companies which use cheap foreign labor overseas is a non-starter; the monied interests in this country and happy with the status quo since it means they can sell their products for ridiculously overpriced rates compared to the minuscule cost to make them.

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Robert Mann

Thus why revolts happen. It’s not a fun or happy topic, but a realistic one. I’m fairly surprised that we haven’t gotten there yet on a variety of issues.

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Bryan Correll

Prior to the last few years people relatively new to the work force had a romanticized view of working the gaming industry, and Blizzard (though not Activision/Blizzard) in particular. Having a steady stream of new people who have ‘dreamed’ of working in gaming makes it easier to get away with treating employees poorly.

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Robert Mann

No companies pay good value.

As to your note about overseas labor and such, that’s something quite relevant with the games industry… but something which can be addressed readily with physical goods (and digital media, although it is slightly tougher). The goal being that there’s no benefit to doing such shady behaviors.

The way that works is through a complete overhaul of trade and business regulation. The problem is that nobody in government at this time, nor in the party leadership, wants that. They are the wealthy business people, they do not wish to hurt themselves (or in the few cases not, the bosses of the party).

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Dro Gul

This has gone on through every administration. It didn’t just start 3 or 4 years ago. Same problems were under Obama. Same problems were under Bush. The problem is that BOTH parties are happy with the status quo and they make the arguments about symptoms not causes. This is an example. Until something changes to limit the supply of labor willing to work for low wages (Visas/Offshore) this will continue. If these employees “win” and get higher wages it just makes them a bigger target for the next round of layoffs or offshoring.

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Bruno Brito

Yep.

There’s a huge detachment from the american people and it’s history, but to someone who watches from afar, and is neighboor of countries with large socialistic histories, the US is quite simple to understand:

There is no left party. There won’t ever. EVER. E V E R. Be a left president on the US. The US was founded by right wing people. It’s a right wing country at it’s heart. The main point of contention from it’s parties ( democrats vs conservatives ) is basically how strong the state should be, and how much of that strength should be towards social issues.

Both parties are right on the spectrum, and the democrats are center-right. The deturpation of the conservative party is tossing it on the far-right spectrum, but a lot of the party still are just “Right”.

Nothing here is new.

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Danny Smith

[BLIZZARD PREPARING “WE WILL DO BETTER – SOFTBOY APOLOGY REVISION Vers.1285730” AT MONSTROUSLY HIGH SPEED]

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dreamer

“We’ve had a tough moneyball moment.”

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Danny Smith

Sprinkle in a “in these trying times” or “we all need to come together”. Maybe a smidge of “UwU we did the fucky wucky agin :3c”