Activision and Raven Software lay off Call of Duty QA testers
Raven Software’s quality assurance testers are being called into meetings to notify them of pending layoffs. The decision was made despite the company’s increased Q3 profits and Activision’s ongoing promise of a wage increase. The move has the potential to add yet another self-inflicted wound to Activision’s already heavily damaged reputation.
Sometimes it seems like Activision can’t help but shoot themselves in the foot. Call of Duty community leader Austin O’Brien’s tweet stated that Activision has begun meeting with the game’s quality assurance (QA) test team to inform them of upcoming layoffs. According to a source close to Kotaku, the layoffs have already gutted more than one third of the quality assurance team and will continue into next week. The layoffs come amidst the company’s ongoing struggle with allegations of harassment and abuse.
O’Brien’s follow-up tweets state that many of the QA testers were asked to move to the Madison, WI, area to work on projects supporting the popular franchise. The developers were also told they would be receiving pay raises on numerous occasions, though the increases never materialized. Instead, according to Kotaku’s source, Activision will hire a handful of the testers permanently, leaving the rest of the team unemployed just in time for the holidays.
While news of the layoffs may be negative, O’Brien’s call to industry friends with open opportunities may yield some positive results. Contacts from large developers like Zenimax to local Madison-based development studios such as Lost Boys Interactive have responded with leads and openings in hopes of finding a home for the displaced QA team.
Video game QA testers are primarily responsible for playing and replaying games (or sections of games) to identify bugs, glitches, and exploits so they can be remediated before or shortly after launch. Games with constant releases and massive player bases, such as Warzone, are heavily reliant upon these testers to ensure releases are functional and do not disrupt the players or surrounding multi-million-dollar industry that has spawned everything from cash tournaments to live streams and Warzone-based podcasts.
The sudden layoffs are not a first for Activision. Earlier this year the company laid off more than 190 employees, citing the changes as necessary to save costs and reinvent itself during the pandemic. Meanwhile, CEO Bobby Kotick raked in more than $200 million in bonuses during that same period.