‘Our mentors are leaving in droves’: Blizzard staff are organizing to demand better compensation

That's organizing, not Organizing - so far.

    
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‘Our mentors are leaving in droves’: Blizzard staff are organizing to demand better compensation

Yesterday, we covered Bloomberg’s report on how Blizzard employees were circulating a spreadsheet of their wages and raises in an effort to determine whether Blizzard had gone far enough with its promises to dispense fair pay, particularly in light of increased duties following the 2019 layoffs. As we noted, employees told stories of skipping meals and living on coffee and oatmeal and postponing starting families because of the poor pay, which is nonsensical for a company that just pulled in $1.93 billion in revenue last quarter. Even Activision-Blizzard shareholders are grumbling over those pay disparities, to the point that almost half voted against Bobby Kotick’s Say-on-Pay policy. (None of this was addressed during yesterday’s investor call, mind you.)

Bloomberg has a follow-up piece out today suggesting that Blizzard employees are now organizing behind the scenes, preparing a list of demands for the company, including “changes to how promotions are doled out, increased vacation time and pay bumps for members of the customer service and quality assurance departments.” Current and former employees told the publication that wages are so low at Blizzard that staff are fleeing to secure pay raises “as high as 75% or 100%” at rival companies. This is obviously bad not just for the teams but for the health and future of the games too.

“In the employee document reviewed by Bloomberg, workers wrote that some are being paid below $40,000 a year. That’s less than half of the median household income in Irvine, California, where Blizzard’s main campus is based. The dynamics are having an impact on staff retention, according to the document. ‘Our mentors are leaving in droves,’ the employees wrote.”

Blizzard representatives have promised to “continue to adapt” compensation and said the company “look[s] forward to hearing from [employees] directly.”

Source: Bloomberg

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Toy Clown

The news of how badly workers were treated in WoW was a shock to me, as it’s been considered the most successful MMO of all time and still gaining traction, even if not as large in today’s bloated market.

It would also explain why the game feels so bloated with unnecessary content and there is a huge difference in how the game feels coming from FFXIV where development takes great care in removing old game bloat on a regular basis while updating systems as well. WoW doesn’t seem to do that.

The question I have is: Where is all of the profit going if it’s not going back into the game in a meaningful way?

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memitim

Exactly where you think it’s going, into huge bonuses for those at the top.

I remember back when TBC came out those of us big into pvp were asking for new battlegrounds and we got fobbed off with some lame ‘it’s really hard to make those maps and it takes a long time and it makes queues longer’ Really? You just made more money than most game companies ever dreamed of and we can’t get a few new maps? And put them on a rotation?
The money has never been going back into the game in any way remotely related to it’s success.

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Bruno Brito

The money has never been going back into the game in any way remotely related to it’s success.

Yeah, it’s amazing looking back at it now.

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Bruno Brito

Where is all of the profit going if it’s not going back into the game in a meaningful way?

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memitim

That’s organizing, not Organizing – so far.

Dat burn.

I obviously have no idea what they are paying or what they are like to work for but if your landlord isn’t accepting Bnet swag in lieu of rent Ashes of Creation studio Intrepid are LFM…just sayin’.

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Sarah Cushaway

My husband and I have long said it feels like modern WoW was slapped together by some half-trained college interns working for minimum wage.

WHELP. Here we are. All the real talent at Blizzard left for greener pastures and fair wages, while Blizzard tries to force entry level devs and coders and artists to somehow make their flagship game a success while paying them starvation wages.

What a joke Blizzard has become.

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Adam Russell

I suspect you may have replied to the wrong post. Was it perhaps intended for the lawyer post down below? See: Bruno Brito and his post claiming all employers are bad because he used to work in a company that sued employers for doing bad stuff so thats all he ever saw.

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Bruno Brito

It’s a point of view. I didn’t say all employers are bad.

I said i never saw a good one. And i didn’t work in a company. I worked for a LAWYER. We SUED employers. Even the most kind of them ended up withholding rights from their employees because that’s what being a employer entails: You make profits on top of your workforce.

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Dug From The Earth

Given how acti-blizz has resorted to mass layoff to cut costs in the recent past, its not too hard to believe that they have been hiring lesser trained/experienced workers that they could pay significantly less money as well. Many companies do this.

It seems to be a common trend these days… that once all the hard work and skill goes into building the giant boat, the companies feel like they just need a lesser skilled staff just to keep it afloat.

You can see similar from companies like Bioware and Bethesda as well.

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Sleepy

I had a related experience once. I’m a corporate trainer, and I was asked to do a day’s training at Twitter. However, they were only paying about 1/3 of my usual rate. The excuse was “but you’ll be able to say you trained for Twitter!”

Having a good 30 years experience behind me, I politely told them to **** right off, but it was the same arrogant attitude of “we’ll pay you crap cos we’re so amazing to work for”.

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Kanbe

I’ve done some freelance work putting up websites and people try very similar sh*t. The clients I’ve worked with weren’t big names like Blizz or Twitter but I would get, “But this will be good experience for you/good for your portfolio so we want to pay you peanuts.” F that.

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Sleepy
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Adam Russell

I cant even imagine that a day at Twitter is something to brag about.

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Rob Hagaman

Everyone looked for another game to be a WoW-killer. Turns out, that killer is Blizzard.

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Dankey Kang

It’s so sad to see a company you treasured so much in the early noughties turn into EA2 but somehow even worse.

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bobfish

$40k would be a very nice wage in Europe for customer support or QA, outside of capital cities (its well above minimum wage in the UK for example, around 50% higher).

Blizzard could obviously pay more, but I wonder how much the location is the problem. If they had those departments based in a cheaper part of the US, would that wage be more acceptable?

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Rob Hagaman

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Irvine, CA is $2464 a month. Gas averages about $4 a gallon, and most people have to drive to work, because California. Most places in the US average $1000-1500 a month for a one-bedroom. Many of these employees aren’t single. A family paying rent for a house, food, health care(I’m sure Activision-Blizzard isn’t taking care of that), child care(because parents are usually both having to work) is going to eat that $40k a year up. Plus, they have no guarantee of employment year to year.

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Sarah Cushaway

No. 40k is starvation wages throughout the USA (and nearly half the working class is trying to survive on that, btw). Unlike much of Europe, the USA does NOT have strong social safety nets or universal healthcare. We rank LOWEST of wealthy developed nations for worker rights.

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Toy Clown

It’s actually considered upper-middle-class wages in New Mexico. It’s the main reason, along with tax cuts to large companies, that the movie industry set up here and we were able to attract large corporations, with Amazon being the latest one currently.

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Archebius

Yeah, 40k is adequate in many places. If you were in a mid-sized town somewhere between the coasts, that would be considered a pretty good job. Where I’m at, you can get a decent 1-bedroom apartment for ~$500-600 a month.

Irvine has had a housing/rent problem for well over a decade now, similar to other west coast tech centers. Cost of living is way, way higher than the national average.

Ernost
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Ernost
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Bluxwave

The game is doing no better either

This moning on retail live BFA, there was no players that would play, no players that would help…. and basically all players qquitting the raid finder..

This is what i experienced this morning

A BAD world quest I had to drag into boralus for 50min to get it down because no players.

A BAD raid finder that had no tanks and everyone quitting…..

Im guessing maybe 5000 players actually playing the game….. while there are more players trolling asmongold on the twitch stream channel because they dont pay $15 sub.

I kinda want a refund for my month its been that bad.

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Koshelkin

Using their brand and the associated dream of working in the industry is sadly not only limited to Blizzard. You hear similar stories from basically all hobby-related industries, like anime/manga-illustrators e.g., and I’m sure more gaming companies are doing it. Not trying to relativize Blizzard’s actions here. I’m just hoping people will finally make a harder push for unions like the voice-actors did and make a collective effort to secure their rights.