600 Activision QA staff vote to form the biggest US game union to date: "As QA workers, we often have the weakest protections and lowest pay"

Activision Blizzard
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

About 600 of Activision's QA staff have voted to unionize, formally becoming the biggest video game union in North America.

Hundreds of quality assurance workers in the Activision Publishing department voted to form the Activision Quality Assurance United union, assisted by the Communication Workers of America (CWA). A CWA representative tells Polygon that 390 tallied votes read "yes," with eight votes opting for a "no."

The Call of Duty, Crash Bandicoot, Diablo, and Warcraft publisher was recently acquired by Microsoft after a series of long, long legal battles. Microsoft previously claimed it wouldn't stand in the way of possible Activision Blizzard unions and announced a labor neutrality agreement back in 2022, which apparently made the unionization process easier on organizers, according to The Verge.

"This has been an emergent effort that's arisen in the last few weeks in response to the opportunities we've had to freely organize following the merger," an organizer from the newly-formed union, Tom Shelley, tells The Verge. "As QA workers, we often have the weakest protections and lowest pay of any workers in the industry," he continues, "even though our work is integral to the success of the companies we work for and the titles we make."

Unionization efforts across Activision Blizzard, and the wider gaming industry, have been growing in recent years. Staff from Raven Software and Blizzard Albany successfully unionized in 2022 despite some potentially union-busting tactics employed by their parent company, And ZeniMax Worker United, Xbox's first-ever unionized subsidiary, began bargaining with corporate stepdad Microsoft just last year. 

Microsoft also recently announced layoffs affecting around 1,900 employees in the gaming division earlier this year. 

Freelance contributor

Kaan freelances for various websites including Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, and this one, Gamesradar. He particularly enjoys writing about spooky indies, throwback RPGs, and anything that's vaguely silly. Also has an English Literature and Film Studies degree that he'll soon forget.