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CWA asks Microsoft 'where is the respect and compassion?' following studio closures

The worker-led organization had its own comments to deliver about Microsoft's recent layoffs and closures.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

May 9, 2024

2 Min Read
Key art for Tango Gameworks' Hi-Fi Rush.
Image via Tango Gameworks/Xbox.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) released a statement regarding the recent layoffs at Arkane Austin, Tango Gameworks, and other Microsoft subsidiaries.

In it, the worker-led organization said the layoffs "highlight the need for [game developers] to organize." With layoffs becoming so common, the CWA noted unions at Sega of America and ZeniMax (which was unaffected) can help establish some saftey measures.

The CWA's had a stable relationship with Microsoft since the publisher stayed neutral as QA teams at Blizzard and ZeniMax were unionizing. It even put support behind Microsoft when the FTC tried stopping the Xbox maker from acquiring Activision Blizzard.

Microsoft's new layoffs reveal a ship with no one at the helm

CWA member Zach Lyon, a senior tester at ZeniMax, wrote that the layoffs were unrelated to the studios' quality and more to do with "management’s decision to prioritize profit over those who worked on and loved these games."

"Every video game worker deserves not only their fair share, but also the peace of mind that comes from having a say over the impact of job cuts. We encourage and support all video game workers to organize for a voice on the job."

These closures and reductions were apparently sudden: Tango was reportedly preparing to pitch Hi-Fi Rush 2, while Arkane Austin was said to be considering a new single-player project and a content rollout for its troubled shooter Redfall.

But per recent reports, Microsoft is basically overwhelmed with the studios it's bought in the past four years. More cuts are expected, and it's claimed the company is now offering voluntary severance to QA and producers.

Despite this, it's also been reported that Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty told staff how Microsoft wants to make small, award-winning games. It's worth noting Tango's last game, Hi-Fi Rush, won several awards and took less time to make than Starfield or most triple-A games.

Regarding Booty's recent comments, Lyon noted how he told Xbox staff to treat those leaving with respect and compassion. To that, he asked: "Where is the respect and compassion from Microsoft?"

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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