Raven Software Stages Walkout Following Layoffs Last Week [UPDATE]

Several developers had relocated in anticipation of in-person work.

Following layoffs on Friday, developers at Call of Duty: Warzone support studio Raven Software are staging a walkout in protest. The workers told Kotaku in a statement (which was also posted online in full) that their only demand is that everyone in the quality assurance division, including those just laid off last week, full-time positions at the company.

“Those participating in this demonstration do so with the continued success of the studio at the forefront of their mind,” the group said in the statement. “The Raven QA department is essential to the day-to-day functioning of the studio as a whole. Terminating the contracts of high performing testers in a time of consistent work and profit puts the health of the studio at risk.”

The layoffs followed repeated assurances from leadership that “positive departmental changes” were on the way for QA, which was used as a reasoning for none of its members receiving any kind of promotion or raises originally set to be in place by March of this year. Instead, 12 employees were laid off, even after they’d relocated to Wisconsin to work at the studio’s Middleton headquarters when the team started working in person again.

In a statement sent to outlets like Kotaku, publisher Activision said it would be promoting around 500 temporary employees in the coming months, but somehow in the midst of all that, 20 people had to be let go.

“Activision Publishing is growing its overall investment in its development and operations resources. We are converting approximately 500 temporary workers to full-time employees in the coming months. Unfortunately, as part of this change, we also have notified 20 temporary workers across studios that their contracts would not be extended.”

Activision-Blizzard is in a state of disarray lately following the publication of a lawsuit regarding the company’s cultivation of a “frat boy” culture. As stories have continued to flow from the company in the form of further reporting, companies like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have apparently been considering how their relationship with Activision-Blizzard moves forward.

Update: Uppercut reports that a source close to the situation has confirmed Activison’s Austin studio moved a group of 32 QA testers to work on Call of Duty Warzone’s Pacific map due to the “incredible scale of testing needed” for the project. This was previously Raven Software’s responsibility, up until two weeks ago when the Activision Austin employees were told of their reassignment. The email, as provided to Uppercut, read as follows:

“Hello everyone, we have received word that due to the incredible scale of testing needed for the Warzone Pacific map and the smaller amount of testing required for Vanguard’s post launch life cycle, all testers who recently transferred to the publisher vanguard project from Zeus [Cold War] will be moved to the publisher kronos [Warzone] project starting on monday 11/29/21.”

Update: After three weeks of an ongoing strike, Raven Software’s QA department hasn’t received an official response from leadership. As such, the striking workers have sent a letter to the higher-ups that was posted publicly on the ABetterABK Twitter account.

Today, Monday January 3rd, is the start of the third work week in which employees are striking in solidarity with 12 members of QA whose contracts were terminated. We have not had any communication from leadership about our singular demand: All members of the Raven QA department must be offered full time positions, including those who were let go.

We have emphasized that our demonstration is done with the best interests of the studio (and all projects on which the studio works) in mind. The downsizing of the Raven QA department without input from anyone within the department is concerning to us and others throughout the company. In the interest of making positive change for Raven, we would like to reach out to leadership to discuss the current situation.

Specifics we would like to discuss on our side are:

  • The details of our demand.
  •  – Expectations from both sides.
  • Relocation packages for those who moved to Wisconsin.
  • The context of the situation from leadership’s side
  • – What are leadership’s goals for the Raven QA department?

Let us know when you are available to have a conversation. We want to be able to foster a transparent and trusting relationship at this studio.