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Blizzard Entertainment Employees Outraged Over Poor Pay, Raise of Less than 10%

Blizzard Entertainment

 

Blizzard Entertainment employees have reportedly been so outrage over poor pay and a recent low raise that they have shared they began sharing a spreadsheet to compare what everyone is earning.

Bloomberg reports that a spreadsheet began circulating anonymously among employees on July 31st. This allowed employees to anonymously share their salaries and recent pay rises. Bloomberg reports this is “the latest example of rising tension in the video game industry over wage disparities and executive compensation.”

According to people familiar with the situation,” an internal survey in 2019 revealed more than half of Blizzard Entertainment employees were unhappy with their pay. This resulted in a “study” to ensure fair pay. The results of that study were reportedly implemented last month, and it seems that employees were far from happy.

Bloomberg reports this caused “outcry” in the employee Slack messaging boards. One employee then reportedly created a spreadsheet, encouraging staff to share information on their pay, and any pay-rises they had gotten.

The results were allegedly most employees getting a pay rise of less than 10%. This was “significantly less” than employees expected after the study.

Activision Blizzard spokeswoman Jessica Taylor told Bloomberg “Our goal has always been to ensure we compensate our employees fairly and competitively. We are constantly reviewing compensation philosophies to better recognize the talent of our highest performers and keep us competitive in the industry, all with the aim of rewarding and investing more in top employees.”

Blizzard Entertainment’s “top performers” reportedly had a salary increase this year that was 20% more than prior years. More people were also promoted. Taylor added “Our overall salary investment is consistent with prior years.”

Bloomberg had previously reported that the pro-labor CtW Investment Group had condemned Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick’s high pay.

Data compiled by Bloomberg stated “his 2019 compensation was worth $40 million at the end of that year” with company stocks “soaring” since then. Chief Financial Officer Dennis Durkin was also paid $15 million in stock awards and sign-on bonus. The anonymous spreadsheet reportedly included the CEO’s annual salary, bonus, and stock award.

Despite the success of Activision Blizzard; including $45 million USD investment from controversial billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros, internal messages reportedly obtained by Bloomberg reveal the opposite for Blizzard Entertainment employees.

Blizzard employees reportedly claimed they were “struggling to make ends meet.” In messages from 2018 employees discussed measures to save money, such as skipping meals to pay rent; using Blizzard Entertainment’s free coffee to suppress their appetite.

Another allegedly claimed to only eat oatmeal and not eat lunch time, as they could not afford to buy food at the company cafeteria. Another claimed they stopped talking about having kids with their partner. This was made worse by seeing pictures of senior employees on family vacations to Disneyland.

While producers and engineers made “well over” $100,000 USD a year, testers and customer-service representatives would get minimum wage “or close to it.” 

Reasons for this could be due to Activision Blizzard reportedly cutting studio costs. In 2019 “hundreds” of jobs were reportedly cut, with remaining staff picking up the responsibilities of those fired. As expected, this did not result in an increase in pay for those remaining (“according to the people familiar with the company”).

The issue may go back further than 2019. While we previously reported on this rumor, in late 2018 Blizzard Entertainment payed over 100 staff to leave the company’s European customer service offices in Cork, Ireland.

One “veteran” Blizzard Entertainment employee reportedly told Bloomberg their raise was less than $0.50 USD an hour, while they are making less today than they did almost 10 years prior. This was due to working fewer overtime hours. Others who had left Blizzard told Bloomberg they received a “significant” increase in pay at other companies such as Riot Games.

The claims cast a new light on nearly every employee who voluntarily left Blizzard Entertainment over the last few years. Michael Chu, the Lead Writer for Overwatch and Overwatch 2, left in March of this year; despite Overwatch 2 seemingly not finishing development.

Other former employees include veteran developers Dustin Browder (Heroes of the Storm director, StarCraft II lead designer), Eric Dodds (Hearthstone director), and Jason Chayes (Hearthstone production director). Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer left the company for Epic Games in 2019.

While executives, Blizzard Entertainment co-founder and president Mike Morhaime stepped down in 2018, while fellow co-founder Frank Pearce left in 2019.

This is not the first time employees have been at odds with Blizzard Entertainment management. In 2019, pro-Hearthstone player Blitzchung was suspended by Blizzard Entertainment for his support of the Hong Kong protests.

Among with the company’s  overall handing of the entire debacle [123], employees staged a walk out. The employees- numbering from a dozen to 30- gathered around the company’s iconic Orc statue in the company HQ’s main square, departing in “the late afternoon.” The location would have been reportedly in plain view of the executive offices.

Image: Wikipedia


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Taking his first steps onto Route 1 and never stopping, Ryan has had a love of RPGs since a young age. Now he's learning to appreciate a wider pallet of genres and challenges.