Around 300 QA workers at Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Studios have officially formed Microsoft's first union - and the biggest video game studio union in the United States.
The union, ZeniMax Workers United/CWA, announced its formation in December, months after Microsoft pledged not to interfere with unionization as part of its $69 billion bid to purchase Activision Blizzard. Today, the group announced that a supermajority of ZeniMax QA employees has voted in favor of the union, officially becoming the first gaming studio union to be recognized by Microsoft and the largest in the US. "In accordance with its stated labor principles, Microsoft has recognized the union," said a representative for ZeniMax Workers United in an email to GamesRadar+.
Happy New Year! We won our union!January 3, 2023
"We're thrilled to kick off 2023 in a workplace that’s stronger and more equitable than it was last year," said senior QA tester Skylar Hinnant. "This is an empowering victory that allows us to protect ourselves and each other in a way we never could without a union. Our hope and belief is that this is the year in which game workers across the country exercise their power and reshape the industry as a whole."
Back in May, employees at Call of Duty Warzone studio Raven Software voted to form the first major North American games union, hoping to inspire a "growing movement of workers." This was what prompted Microsoft, which will become Raven's parent company if its Activision deal goes through, to issue a statement in support of its employees' right to unionize.
ZeniMax QA testers have said the move to unionize will help combat a number of issues, from crunch culture to compensation.
"Before us is an opportunity to make big changes and bring equity to the video game industry," said senior QA audio tester Victoria Banos. "We want to put an end to sudden periods of crunch, unfair pay, and lack of growth opportunities within the company. Our union will push for truly competitive pay, better communication between management and workers, a clear path for those that want to progress their career, and more."
In case you need a catch-up, here's a breakdown of the Activision Blizzard lawsuit and investigations, which are still ongoing.