Call of Duty developers stage walkout to protest recent layoffs

Call of Duty developers at Raven Software staged a walkout on Tuesday to protest surprise layoffs in the QA department.
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Call of Duty developers at Raven Software staged a walkout on Tuesday in protest of recent layoffs which saw several Quality Assurance (QA) contractors laid off, despite reported promises to offer pay restructures in future. According to The Washington Post, these surprise layoffs began in the the first week of December, with several employees being let go without warning, just weeks before Christmas.

‘My friends in QA at Raven [Software] were promised, for months, that Activision was working towards a pay restructure to increase their wages,’ developer Austin O’Brien said on Twitter. ‘One by one, valuable members of the team were called into meetings and told they were being let go.’

By the end of these layoffs, a third of the QA department had reportedly been gutted, with 12 contracted employees being officially let go, and even more uncertain about their future.

In a statement shared by journalist Stephen Totilo, the Raven Software team confirmed those let go had been in ‘good standing’, which meant they had not underperformed or been fired for any particular reason.

The developers further claim they were let go after five weeks of working overtime, ahead of another period expected to be a ‘crunch’ leading up to the holiday break.

‘The team was told multiple times by Raven leadership that there were positive departmental changes coming,’ the statement describing the walkout reads.

‘The 12 individuals who have been let go so far are considered by their colleagues to be essential to the everyday functioning of the Raven QA team. Several of those who were let go recently relocated to Wisconsin in anticipation of the return to in person work.’

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In protest of these layoffs, Raven Software staff walked out on Tuesday, with the demand for every member of the QA team to be reinstated and offered full-time, secure positions.

The health of the studio was cited as a primary reason for the walkout, with developers concerned about how the loss of these 12 developers will impact the production of Call of Duty and the ‘continued growth’ of Raven as a studio.

Activision Blizzard has responded to the protest, claiming the layoffs are part of an important internal restructure, designed to shuffle the roles of 500 temporary employees and convert them to full-time employment.

‘[Activision Blizzard] is converting approximately 500 temporary workers to full-time employees in the coming months. Unfortunately, as part of this change, we also have notified 20 temporary workers across studios that their contracts would not be extended,’ a statement provided reads.

Why these 20 workers have been singled out, given 500 workers will be transferred to full-time contracts shortly, is unknown. As layoffs continue, developers at Raven Software are doing everything in their power to reverse Activision’s decision.

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.