- Activision Blizzard massively sacking Raven Software’s quality control staff who will remain on the team until January 28;
- about donis Austin OBrien, the studio’s community manager, according to which publisher promised raise to testers;
- At the same time, Geoff Keighley announced that Activision Blizzard will not appear at The Game Awards 2021 if he does not count the publisher’s nominated games.
A few months after filing a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, the American publisher has by no means the scandal behind it. On the contrary, one gets the impression that each week brings with it another bad news about a company that is rapidly losing allies. Unfortunately, it is no different in the first days of December. Austin OBrien, Community Manager at Raven Software inform about layoffs in the studio quality control department.
source: Austin OBrien on Twitter.
As reported by OBrien (and confirmed, among others, by The Washington Post, Kotaku, and Jason Schreier from Bloomberg), Raven Software testers are summoned to meetings one at a time and find out if they are the ones who need to leave the studio. Some people have these visits planned only for the next week, so you won’t find out about whether you are in the company or not until after the weekend. Those who drop out will stay on the team until January 28.
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OBrien does not hide his indignation at the decision of Activision Blizzard. Just a few months ago, the company promised that the quality control team could count on higher wages. However, no one is in a hurry to inform the team about the progress of the related restructuring. Kotaku’s source reports that it is essentially about AB absorbing a portion of Raven Software’s testers and laying off many of the remaining employees. The rest will actually receive increases.
Such a move is not uncommon in the market, but it definitely does not improve the already tarnished image of Activision Blizzard. OBrien points out that many of the testers released were valuable team members and were once ordered to move to Madison, Wisconsin to work at Raven Software. Feels like him Tyler Trombley (studio gameplay engineer) who named the company’s QA as one of the best he has ever worked with, made up of people with many years of experience behind them.
It’s easy to imagine the impact this will have on studio morale, especially as many employees have to wait until next week (and just before Christmas) to find out about possible layoffs after many years of crunch (via Molly Weaver employed in the company as a tester). This will probably be more, since Raven Software will have to deal with the current obligations (including the development of Call of Duty: Warzone, but also supporting other Activision projects) with a smaller (and probably devoid of enthusiasm after the whole thing) team.
All this means that many creators, not only employees of Raven Software, consider the publisher’s move unnecessary or even cruel. Evan Avillan, one of the dismissed testers who was considering leaving the company, bluntly stated that he thought working at Activision was a shame (via The Washington Post).
Responses to OBrien’s appeal to friends in the industry to share job offers for dismissed colleagues (the proposals were made by Ubisoft, Bungie and IO Interactive employees, among others) quickly appeared on the web. Also players vented their frustration in media and OBrien’s original tweet was retweeted 3,500 times.
It cannot be ruled out that it is this scandal that causes Activision Blizzard will not appear at The Game Awards 2021 (except for nominations for publisher’s titles). Yesterday Geoff Keighley announced (via The Washington Post) that he would not take a stance on the AB controversy, although he would add that he would still be considering the company’s participation in this year’s TGA. Maybe the layoffs at Raven Software helped him make up his mind.
rdo: Geoff Keighley on Twitter.