In context: Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in controversy for the better part of a year after being hit with lawsuits, formal investigations, and various other legal actions surrounding alleged cases of employee discrimination, harassment, and general mistreatment. Some employees even went on strike in response to the abrupt firing of several members of Activision Blizzard's "Raven" QA team.
Those protests have already ended, but they may have had a positive impact on Activision Blizzard's hiring and employee compensation policies. Activision Blizzard has just converted a whopping 1,100 of its part-time employees to full-time workers, which was one of the major protest demands. This change will give impacted workers additional benefits, including access to bonuses and other perks of full-time labor.
Activision Blizzard says it already made a similar move last year when it converted 500 "temp and contract roles" to full-time positions company-wide. The company is also increasing the minimum pay for those positions to $20 per hour -- a policy change that will take effect on April 17.
This is great news for Activision Blizzard's workers, and it's one of the first concrete steps the corporation has taken to do right by its workers since the employee mistreatment debacle first came to light. The company claims that today's news represents a 25 percent increase in the number of full-time workers it employs, which is a very substantial shift.
These changes are not coming at the cost of the unionization process that Raven QA workers began recently. Activision Blizzard assures the public that the positive improvements it's implementing are entirely separate and not contingent on unionization stopping. Indeed, Raven employees have already formed a union called the "Game Workers Alliance," but Activision Blizzard has thus far refused to recognize the organization.
The GWA hopes to compel recognition soon by going directly to the National Labor Relations Board and holding a vote. If the GWA's push succeeds with at least 50 percent of Raven workers voting in favor, Activision Blizzard will be forced to negotiate with the new union.
As GamesIndustry points out, however, Blizzard is 'restructuring' to spread out QA members across different studios rather than centralizing them at Raven HQ. This could throw a bit of a wrench into the works, but we'll just have to wait and see to be sure.