Activision Blizzard's toxic culture seems to extend to its QA department

The QA and customer service employees at Activision Blizzard feel undervalued, underpaid, and exploited.

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The dark and creepy corners of Activision Blizzard continue to have light shone on them from employees who are understandably exhausted from the treatment they’ve received during their time at the company. More reports are surfacing, suggesting that the toxic culture extends into the Quality Assurance and Customer Service departments where poor treatment, under-appreciation, and low pay has a stranglehold on workers just trying to get enough to pay for food and rent.

A report by Nicole Carpenter of Polygon on August 12, revealed that the problems outlined in the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit against Activision Blizzard extends beyond the full time employees at the companies and into the Quality Assurance (QA) testers, who are mostly contracted for short times. Polygon discussed the matter with 15 employees, who were a mixture of current and former workers in the QA and customer service departments.

activision blizzard contract workers QA and customer service

According to the report, QA continues to get labelled as “unskilled work” and “something a monkey could do” with the other departments being classified as the “real” developers. This further compounds the problem of QA contractors feeling replaceable and undervalued.

Similar stories also appear in a report by Ari Notis of Kotaku. In Notis’ report, the contractors highlight low wages that affords them barely enough for food and rent, despite some living with their parents or having a partner with a full time job, no children, and no debts.

Problems also extend into the realm of employee benefits. One of Activision’s contract studios is based in Texas, a state that does not mandate paid sick leave. There is also a pervasive attitude of “Aren’t you lucky to be working for Blizzard?” which, combined with the low pay and instability of contract work, leaves QA and customer service contractors in a position whereby they feel required to pull longer shifts in order to prove themselves’ worthy of having their contracts extended.

Another employee also notes a distinct lack of sensitivity training. During their time at Activision Blizzard, there was one such training session, though it was the bare minimum and neglected to cover topics such as pronouns. The lack of LGBTQ sensitivity can be felt throughout the teams, as one employee, Billy, noted. Billy requested to be referred to as they/them and at another point, one squad member made the “joke”, “I identify as an attack helicopter,” which garnered no correction from others present.

All of these reports continue to bring to the forefront of people’s attention the reality of working at Activision Blizzard. Much has happened following the events of the DFEH lawsuit that set this chain of events into action. Bobby Kotick made a statement during the Activision Blizzard Q2 2021 earnings call, which sounded like platitudes to the point that shareholders said the response was “inadequate”.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the situation with the employees of Activision Blizzard and what the company and its leadership are doing to fix the problems that have entered the public eye.

Guides Editor

Hailing from the land down under, Sam Chandler brings a bit of the southern hemisphere flair to his work. After bouncing round a few universities, securing a bachelor degree, and entering the video game industry, he's found his new family here at Shacknews as a Guides Editor. There's nothing he loves more than crafting a guide that will help someone. If you need help with a guide, or notice something not quite right, you can Tweet him: @SamuelChandler 

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