Microsoft now has the biggest gaming league push

The Microsoft logo hangs in front of a green grid.

picture: Microsoft/Xiao Zhai

The latest wave of labor organizing in the gaming industry has just broken out.Around 300 quality assurance staff ZeniMaxwhich includes developers from Bethesda and other game studios such as starry sky and The Elder Scrolls Online, announced today that they will be joining forces with Communications Workers of America.and Unlike Activision Blizzard’s joint driveMicrosoft, which bought ZeniMax in 2021, says it won’t get in their way either.

“We applaud Microsoft for being neutral in this process, allowing workers to decide for themselves whether they want to unionize,” CWA President Christopher Shelton said in a release. while sending a resounding message to the video game industry: the right to a free and fair choice of union representation should rest in the hands of workers, not management.”

According to CWA, it also organizes QA Raven Software and Blizzard Albany Stores, ZeniMax executives have been given explicit guidance from Microsoft to remain neutral in the process. Over the next four weeks, QA employees in all US offices will sign union cards or vote through the electronic portal. With majority support, the union appears set to be endorsed by Microsoft and become by far the largest union for gaming industry employees seeking more power in the workplace.

read more: The casualties of Fallout 76’s catastrophic launch

QA staff are some of the lowest paid, highest workload, and most volatile employees at any major gaming company, and the ZeniMax employees are no exception. as Kotaku reported earlier this yearthose involved in the worrying development Fallout 76 Having to deal with chronic overtime and even alleged health problems from chronic overwork. The groups said they hoped to address issues about scheduling, pay and management accountability through a new union called ZeniMax Workers United.

“More paychecks, that’s the main problem for most of us,” a current QA tester who wished to remain anonymous told Kotaku. “The benefits are great, I just don’t make enough money for them to matter.”

Microsoft originally made a promise Remaining neutral on union matters as part of its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which won regulatory approval. As a result of the move, the CWA announced its support for the merger, which comes as unionization efforts also intensify in other parts of tech, including at Apple and Google. But the real test of Microsoft’s enlightened stance on labor organizing will come at the negotiating table when ZeniMax employees seek to negotiate pay, benefits and other working conditions as part of their first contract.

Additional reporting by Jiang Sisi.

UPDATE 12/5/22 6:07PM ET: Added a quote from a current employee and clarified that the proposed union includes QA staff in all US offices.


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