CEO of Microsoft Gaming Phil Spencer told employees at a May 26 all-hands meeting that Microsoft would recognize Raven Software’s newly-formed union once Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is a done deal.
Raven Software is a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard and is best known for co-developing several Call of Duty titles. The studio’s quality assurance department voted on May 23 to unionize (the union will be called the Game Workers’ Alliance). Microsoft of course is in the process of buying Activision Blizzard and will become the owners of all the latter’s subsidiary companies once the $68 billion buyout is finalized.
Happy union day! We won! pic.twitter.com/nzJ4A3J3RB
— Game Workers Alliance 💙#WeAreGWA (@WeAreGWA) May 23, 2022
During the meeting Spencer stated “We absolutely support employees’ right to organize and form unions.”
He also said “Once the deal closes, we would absolutely support [an] employees’ organization that’s in place. We think it is a right of employees and something that can be a part of a relationship between a company and people who work at the company.”
While it is important to note that Microsoft at present does not have a relationship with either Raven Software or Game Workers’ Alliance, this does mark the first time that a top Microsoft executive has openly stated that Microsoft would recognize a game workers union. Although a Microsoft spokesperson had previously said that “Microsoft will not stand in the way if Activision Blizzard recognizes a union,” in response to a letter sent to Sattya Nadella on the subject.
A version of the letter is also slated to run in Microsoft's backyard this weekend in the Sunday edition of the Seattle Times pic.twitter.com/e1sHUSKFLY
— Stephen Totilo (@stephentotilo) March 24, 2022
Will the gaming industry become increasingly unionized across the board as time goes on? No one can say at this point, but the move by one of gaming’s giants to recognize unionization is a step in that direction.