In a meeting with Xbox Game Studios employees, Xbox head Phil Spencer stated that the recently-formed QA testers union at Raven Software will be recognised by the company. According to Kotaku, Spencer has stated that “We absolutely support employees’ right to organise and form unions.”
The statement comes in light of Microsoft’s impending acquisition of Activision Blizzard, as well as Raven Software’s QA team recently having voted to form a labour union, which makes it essentially the first ever labour union at a major gaming studio.
“Once the deal closes, we would absolutely support [an] employees’ organisation that’s in place,” said Spencer. “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.”
According to a recent report by Axios, Microsoft has also stated that it will not object to Activision Blizzard’s recognising unionisation.
It is, however, worth noting that, according to US labour law, companies have to recognise unionisation efforts by its employees. In this case, once voting for unionisation has finished—which it has in the case of Raven Software’s QA team—ignoring the unionisation would have legal repercussions for both Microsoft as well as Activision Blizzard.
Workers’ rights have been a big issue in game development over the last decade, and as efforts in unionising for several sectors in game development are progressing, as are the quality of labour rights for the employees.