Activision studio lets go of at least 12 Call of Duty QA testers

Activision Blizzard's Santa Monica studio
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

At least 12 quality assurance contractors at Raven Software, one of the primary Call of Duty development studios, were laid off today. More QA contractors could lose their jobs next week.

According to The Washington Post, the testers were previously told by Activision to expect a transfer to a new staffing partner, Volt, which was going to come with added benefits, bonuses, and a $1.50 per hour raise, increasing their wages to $18.50 per hour. Instead, they were let go today. One QA tester told the paper that their project lead hadn't known about the impending layoffs.

"I am gutted right now. My friends in QA at Raven were promised, for months, that Activision was working towards a pay restructure to increase their wages," tweeted Raven associate community manager Austin O'Brien. "Today, one by one, valuable members of the team were called into meetings and told they were being let go."

Raven Software is one of the primary Call of Duty developers, and the studio most associated with its biggest recent success, Call of Duty: Warzone.

Layoffs haven't been an uncommon experience for Activision Blizzard departments and studios over the past few years. Earlier this year, a number of esports employees were laid off, and in 2019, the company cut hundreds of jobs after announcing record revenue.

Layoffs aren't uncommon at other large publishers either. EA laid off 350 people in 2019, for example. Although the number of affected employees in this case is much smaller than that (at least right now), the layoffs at Raven are particularly notable—and are generating a large public reaction—because the relationship between Activision Blizzard's leadership and employees is as hostile as it has ever been. Many employees called for CEO Bobby Kotick's resignation following a recent report that alleged that he was behind Activision Blizzard's denials following the filing of California's sexual harassment lawsuit in July.

O'Brien's reaction to the layoffs has been shared over a thousand times on Twitter just a few hours after it was posted. Many commenters are pointing out the enormous amount of revenue brought in by Warzone.

Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.