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Activision Blizzard unveils bizarre tactics in fighting Albany union

Lawyers from Activision Blizzard have released internal Diablo IV footage and QA tester info in its hearing with the NLRB.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

August 12, 2022

2 Min Read
Lilith in promo art for Blizzard's Diablo IV.

As reported by the Washington Post, representatives from Activision Blizzard and Blizzard Albany held a virtual hearing over Zoom with the National Labor Relations Board to argue if Blizzard Albany should be recognized as a union. 

Earlier this year, Blizzard Albany formed a union to ensure better working conditions and pay for its QA department. Shortly after, Activision Blizzard later said it wouldn't willingly recognize that union. "Our top priority remains our employees," said a company spokesperson at the time. "We deeply respect the rights of all employees under the law to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union." 

The labor hearing has lasted all week, during which Activision Blizzard's lawyers have resorted to various tactics to make its case to the NLRB. One such tactic saw the lawyers revealing footage from the upcoming Diablo IV that featured a list of the game's QA testers. 

During that footage, Activision Blizzard allegedly released the cover letter and social media of a specific QA tester. Among Blizzard Albany employees, that disclosure is said by the Washington Post to have upset several of them, who've become worried about online harassment.

One Blizzard Albany employee, who spoke under anonymity, called it "darkly ironic" that Activision Blizzard could openly post such information during the hearing.

“If an employee wants to be able to update their portfolio or do something that might help them find better employment elsewhere, they have to wait until the game is released,” said the employee. “But when the company wants to argue against what the majority of employees in a given unit have stated is in their best interest and what they want, it’s totally fine for them to just share stuff."

Previously, Activision Blizzard has been accused of employing union-busting tactics, such as shuffling Raven's QA team across various company departments.

When Raven Software's QA workers unionized earlier in the year, Activision Blizzard argued that all of Raven's employees should have a say in unionization, and a similar case was made here. This time, the publisher's lawyers argued that additional employees should be allowed to vote in the union election, but only ones who specifically work on Diablo games.

"We believe strongly that no employee should be disenfranchised and that creativity, inspiration and the free exchange of ideas work best when all nonsupervisory employees in Albany working on Diablo get to participate in the vote, not just 20 quality assurance testers identified by the union," said Activision Blizzard spokesperson Rich George said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Game Developer has reached out to Activision Blizzard for comment, will update accordingly. 

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.

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