Activision Blizzard lays off Raven Software team after reportedly ‘promising’ pay restructure

Following record profits, Activision Blizzard has begun laying off the Raven Software development team responsible for working on Call of Duty.
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Following the announcement of record profits in the form of US $2 billion ($2.9 billion) made within its third financial quarter, Activision Blizzard has laid off nearly a third of developer Raven Software’s Quality Assurance (QA) team. Raven is a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard. According to The Washington Post, Activision Blizzard is currently in the process of either laying off or promoting staff, with many contractors now uncertain about their future.

A dozen QA testers have already been laid off, with more contractors reportedly being informed of structural changes over the next few days. While some developers are being given raises to the tune of US $1.50 ($2.15) an hour, many are simply being let go.

‘I feel hurt and betrayed,’ an anonymous Raven Software contractor told the Washington Post. ‘The majority of people who have had their meetings were fired … Everyone was told, ‘You did nothing wrong’ after being given the bad news.’

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The Raven Software team is largely responsible for the Call of Duty franchise, with production work currently being carried out on Black Ops – Cold War and free-to-play battle royale game, Call of Duty: Warzone.

It appears the changes weren’t expected at all, with Raven Software developers reportedly having been part of pay restructuring talks for months.

According to Raven Software community manager Austin O’Brien, developers were ‘promised, for months, that Activision was working towards a pay restructure to increase their wages’.

In a subsequent tweet, O’Brien called the layoffs ‘bullshit’ and said it was ‘unfair to these people to string them along, promising something better, and then let them go.’

Another tester reportedly told The Washington Post that even their project lead had been kept in the dark about layoffs, with no real clues as to what was happening behind the scenes.

‘Our team is destroyed and absolutely no one is going to want to work even if they got promoted,’ Evan Avillanoza, a QA tester at Raven Software said. ‘It’s an embarrassment working for Activision, in my opinion.’

There’s no word on how the layoffs will impact ongoing work on the Call of Duty games, or whether production will transfer to another Activision Blizzard subsidiary.

The layoffs follow major, ongoing turmoil at Activision Blizzard which recently saw more than 1,800 employees call for the resignation of CEO Bobby Kotick following a Wall Street Journal report which alleged senior management at the company had ‘covered up’ accusations of sexual assault and harassment.

Going forward, all eyes will be on Activision Blizzard’s next steps.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.