Yesterday saw the release of Blizzard’s earnings report for Q2 2020 which ended on June 30th. It shows off their record profits, which were more than they were expecting for this quarter with their net revenue up half a billion dollars from last year. But whilst CEO Bobby Kotick will surely be celebrating, many of the staff won’t be. Instead, they’ll be asking the question of why, if earnings have been so great, wages and pay rises are barely enough for some workers to support themselves.
Friday saw something different from the company, instead of flashy reports about how well they’re doing, Bloomburg shared a look into pay at the company from a spreadsheet put together by anonymous employees of Activision Blizzard. The spreadsheet shares salaries and pay increase information. This came after results from a company survey showed that many employees were not happy with the pay they were receiving. The company took this on board and did a study into fair pay, the results of which were put into effect last month. However, employees still didn’t see the compensation they were expecting, with most pay rises being under 10%.
Considering Kotick’s earnings were worth $40 million by the end of 2019, and Chief Financial Advisor Dennis Durkin was given $15 million in stock awards and a signing bonus, it’s easy to understand why employees are so angry. Whilst they’re enjoying these yearly earnings that many people won’t reach in a lifetime of work, employees at the other end of the spectrum like customer service representatives and game testers have had to implement cost savings tips in their lives to get by; skipping meals to pay rent, using the free coffee provided by the company as an appetite suppressant, not going to team lunches because they can’t afford them, and even delaying plans to start a family. All whilst having to live in high cost areas to have access to their jobs.
Not only are employees struggling financially, but they’re doing a lot more work. Last year saw hundreds of jobs lost within the company due to new cost-saving measures, whilst workers kept on were asked to pick up the slack with no financial reward for doing so. Coupled with changes to overtime pay, many employees are doing more work, for less money. And it probably won’t come as a surprise to know that the company was not in any financial trouble. In fact, they had a record breaking year, and yet this didn’t stop the layoffs, or the callous way employees were told about them.
This is just another in a long line of reports about toxic and exploitative games companies, but it’s important not to become complacent at what seems like a neverending onslaught of information about harmful working conditions. Over the past fews years we’ve heard about the dangerous effects that crunch culture can have on workers, and more and more allegations of sexual harassment and abuse. We can’t ignore it, and instead should be aiming to amplify voices calling for unionisation, fair pay, healthy working conditions and safe environments – things that no one should have to be asking for in the first place. Working for a company that creates something you’re passionate about shouldn’t come at the cost of financial insecurity, and hopefully employees taking a stand against these unfair conditions will get the outcome they deserve.
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