The newly formed Game Workers Alliance Albany, which consists of about 20 QA employees at Blizzard Albany, formerly known as Vicarious Visions, has unionized and requested formal recognition by Activision Blizzard.
The new unit took inspiration from Game Workers Alliance, a group of QA workers from Activision Blizzard owned Raven Software that had decided to unionize. That team won a formal union vote back in May. Now, the developer of Diablo II: Resurrected, as well as other series like Crash Bandicoot, has gotten an acknowledgment of their union, but not recognition, according to a report in the Washington Post.
Using the name Game Workers Alliance Albany was a decision patterned after Raven QA’s unionized testers’ decision to use a name that wasn’t studio-exclusive and invited others to join in. According to one of the employees, Amanda Laven, in the Washington Post report, “I firmly believe that having the union is going to give us the power that we need to make our workplace better”.
With Activision Blizzard the subject of a pending 69 billion dollar acquisition by Microsoft, there have been statements by Microsoft about taking a neutral stand on unionization. Microsoft has also, in the past, said it would honor unionization decisions by Activision Blizzard staff if they chose to make those decisions.
Activision Blizzard agreed as legally required to negotiate with the Raven branch of Game Workers Alliance, but there's no word yet if the company will negotiate with the new Blizzard Albany union. If the company does not formally recognize GWWA and open negotiations as they’ve requested, it would likely take some time before a formal vote could be held.
Activision Blizzard spokesperson Rich George told the Post that the company believes that negotiating directly with employees is the best option and will respond to the petition to the NLRB.