Activision Blizzard developer Proletariat is unionizing

Spellbreak
(Image credit: Proletariat)
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Workers at Activision Blizzard owned developer Proletariat have formed a union. Notably, the union includes a wider variety of studio departments, from QA testers to animation, design, engineering, and production employees.

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As reported by Game Developer, the Proletariat Workers Alliance (PWA) has asked Activision Blizzard management to recognize their union voluntarily. They've formed their union with another nationwide union, the Communication Workers of America, or CWA, and have filed to form a union with the National Labor Relations Board, the body that governs union elections in the United States.

Proletariat is the developer behind multiplayer game Spellbreak (opens in new tab), which will shut down early next year (opens in new tab) following the company's acquisition by Activision Blizzard. The developers at Spellbreak will now work on World of Warcraft.

In a press release (opens in new tab) from the CWA, Dustin Yost, a Software Engineer at Proletariat, said that "Everyone in the video game industry knows Activision Blizzard’s reputation for creating a hostile work environment, so earlier this year, when we heard that Blizzard was planning to acquire Proletariat, we started to discuss how we could protect the great culture we have created here. By forming a union and negotiating a contract, we can make sure that we are able to continue doing our best work and create innovative experiences at the frontier of game development."

The union is demanding flexible paid time off, remote working options, and voluntary overtime.

Activision Blizzard has had several teams at studios owned by the company unionize in the last year, notably the Quality Assurance teams at Raven Software and Blizzard Albany. This would be a full studio, markedly different than the specialized team-within-a-team that is QA. 

Microsoft, which is seeking to buy Activision Blizzard, has already entered into an agreement with the CWA to remain neutral and streamline unionization processes should employees at acquired studios should they choose to unionize.

Proletariat. Remarkably apropos name, that.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.