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Activision Blizzard QA workers protest "more stressful" return-to-office policy

Activision Blizzard will kick off its 2024 by ending its hybrid work policy and fully embracing a return to the office.

2 Min Read
Logo for game publisher Activision Blizzard.
Image via Activision Blizzard.

At a Glance

  • Activision Blizzard becomes the next major publisher to fully instill a return-to-office mandate for all its studios.

Activision Blizzard is ending its hybrid work structure, much to the dismay of its QA staff. Per A Better ABK, workers at studios in Austin, Minneapolis, and El Segundo will go back to the office in January.

They were reportedly told this news in late November, and the policy allows for zero work-from-home days. Those who can't (or don't) comply will effectively be laid off and offered severance.

This makes Activision Blizzard the second major publisher after Ubisoft to openly install a mandate telling its workers to come back to the office.

Back in April, the Call of Duty publisher ended its full remote work policy that begun at the height of the pandemic. Staff now had to return to the office three days out of the week, a move met with controversy.

At the time of the hybrid policy's announcement, several employees were vocally against it. They argued there was no interest in going back to the office, and that it would put them (and their families) at risk.

Activision Blizzard goes "back to work," but at what cost?

A Better ABK's press release reveals QA workers' job security has been on "shaky ground" due to hybrid work. "Hundreds" of employees have tried to get a permanent work-from-home arrangement, many of which have been "outright denied."

"This decision also leaves our most vulnerable employees behind," continued ABK, "especially our disabled and medically vulnerable employees. With sick season in full gear...this creates a dangerous situation for all employees."

Activision Blizzard QA staffer Andrew Snell told Game Developer the news was a "complete surprise" that not even direct management knew until it happened. The news had had a tangible effect on co-workers, they added, claiming it makes them feel "undesired" and "unwelcome."

"To many of us, [this] feels a lot like a soft layoff without saying that out loud," they said. "I only hope that upper management is seeing and overhearing the conversations...and how it affects us in the hopes that maybe they will reconsider this decision."

Speaking on the RTO policy, Activision Blizzard said this would allow for a "best-in-class QA function" inspired by each location's performance during the hybrid period.

Regarding the disability accommodation, it said it "[takes] our support for employees with disabilities, differing abilities, mental health requirements, and changing medical needs seriously."

"We are focused on finding appropriate, reasonable accommodations for team members who experience barriers to performing their essential job functions," it continued. "We thoroughly manage all requests and work with the individual confidentially to understand their medical needs and offer a variety of individualized solutions."

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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