Activision Blizzard employees win their union vote

gamerk2

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FYI it's made up of only 22 QA employees.
Yeah, but now that there's a union to represent QA employees in the industry, you are likely going to see other QA employees start Union drives in order to try to obtain whatever benefits the Union at AB is able to extract.
 

Derangel

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Yeah, but now that there's a union to represent QA employees in the industry, you are likely going to see other QA employees start Union drives in order to try to obtain whatever benefits the Union at AB is able to extract.

If this works out for Raven, I hope it does spread across the industry. With how poorly a lot of companies seem to create QA workers a union could help (as long as it's run by the right people, of course). Be nice to see it spread to other parts of the industry as well.
 

gamerk2

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I’m surprised the industry still has QA people with the amount of unfinished garbage that gets released time after time.
Someone needs to uncover bugs during active development. The *real* problem is the scope of many projects go beyond what anyone is capable of. It's *hard* to develop across multiple sites, especially when management has no clear vision of what they want your game to even be. So things get built, tested, replaced, redone, time after time again, and more often then not everything is stitched together in the last six months of development or so. Frankly, I'm shocked most titles are able to be completed at all the day they release.
 

MrGuvernment

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Someone needs to uncover bugs during active development. The *real* problem is the scope of many projects go beyond what anyone is capable of. It's *hard* to develop across multiple sites, especially when management has no clear vision of what they want your game to even be. So things get built, tested, replaced, redone, time after time again, and more often then not everything is stitched together in the last six months of development or so. Frankly, I'm shocked most titles are able to be completed at all the day they release.
Think back to the days of open Beta testing...
games would almost always have an open beta for a month of 2 before launch, it was common, provide a single map for FPS games, or a half level for other games.. but then game companies stopped doing that, and then all the fools line up to pre-order games months ahead of time... giving a company their money for a product they know nothing about...
 

techie81

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This will certainly increase the quality of the games they work on.
Yup, having people work just hard enough to not get fired will definitely get those creative juices flowing! Also, harboring employees who are not productive to begin with will increase everyone's productivity!

I just don't see this working out well but when you are already at rock bottom, who knows.
 

deadrody

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Yup, having people work just hard enough to not get fired will definitely get those creative juices flowing! Also, harboring employees who are not productive to begin with will increase everyone's productivity!

I just don't see this working out well but when you are already at rock bottom, who knows.
Indeed. The one thing you can be sure of is that this is not going to help gaming companies. Unions are about the employees, not the company. I have no idea how someone could fathom that your QA employees unionizing would help you make better QA employees.
 

gamerk2

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Indeed. The one thing you can be sure of is that this is not going to help gaming companies. Unions are about the employees, not the company. I have no idea how someone could fathom that your QA employees unionizing would help you make better QA employees.
It could help indirectly. If QA has adequate personnel/funding/time to do their jobs properly, its possible games could release in a better state, leading to better initial reviews, and more sales (profits).

But yes, Unions primary job is to ensure the well being of their members, just like a Corporations primary job is to ensure the well being of their shareholders.
 

gamerk2

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Think back to the days of open Beta testing...
games would almost always have an open beta for a month of 2 before launch, it was common, provide a single map for FPS games, or a half level for other games.. but then game companies stopped doing that, and then all the fools line up to pre-order games months ahead of time... giving a company their money for a product they know nothing about...
Right, the problem is the Beta's for most games started to ship in a broken state, and a bad Beta (it was feared) would lead to a bad initial response and thus less sales. So, companies instead decided to can Betas, put NDAs on reviews until after the game launched in order to hide any negative indications prior to launch, and doubled down on pre-order bonuses to try and get people to "lock in" their purchase before word of mouth spread the game was hot garbage.
 

Denpepe

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Indeed. The one thing you can be sure of is that this is not going to help gaming companies. Unions are about the employees, not the company. I have no idea how someone could fathom that your QA employees unionizing would help you make better QA employees.

Maybe it's less important for QA testers, but having your staff go trough 6 months+ of crunch mode and hope that they bring out a decent game also seems counterproductive and is maybe a reason so many games ship bugged.
 

MrGuvernment

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Right, the problem is the Beta's for most games started to ship in a broken state, and a bad Beta (it was feared) would lead to a bad initial response and thus less sales. So, companies instead decided to can Betas, put NDAs on reviews until after the game launched in order to hide any negative indications prior to launch, and doubled down on pre-order bonuses to try and get people to "lock in" their purchase before word of mouth spread the game was hot garbage.
Very true, forgot about that angle of it...
 

MrGuvernment

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Maybe it's less important for QA testers, but having your staff go trough 6 months+ of crunch mode and hope that they bring out a decent game also seems counterproductive and is maybe a reason so many games ship bugged.
Blame the internet, get it out the door now and fix it later, back in the days of no internet on consoles for example, you had to try and ship a dam near perfect game right, sometimes you would find a couple bugs in a game, but usually nothing that would be game stopping!
 

Derangel

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It could help indirectly. If QA has adequate personnel/funding/time to do their jobs properly, its possible games could release in a better state, leading to better initial reviews, and more sales (profits).

But yes, Unions primary job is to ensure the well being of their members, just like a Corporations primary job is to ensure the well being of their shareholders.

It might help game quality, but it's still going to depend on developers and publishers giving their programmers adequate time to fix anything that the QA team finds. For all we know, there could be hundreds of bug reports in games that go unfixed prior to launch simply because the publisher wants to hit a target date and refuses to give the development team time to address the reports. I think it might be more helpful in areas we don't see, early builds. That said, a union isn't going to be able to change how a studio feels about their QA team or how much they value that team's input.

Blame the internet, get it out the door now and fix it later, back in the days of no internet on consoles for example, you had to try and ship a dam near perfect game right, sometimes you would find a couple bugs in a game, but usually nothing that would be game stopping!

You are wearing some heavy rose tinted glasses and also putting the blame squarely in one place when it's a pretty complex problem. Games are several orders of magnitude more complex, in terms of programming, now compared to the pre-internet days. Big games require hundreds of people working in tandem over multiple years to be completed. Programming complexity, combined with overworked and exhausted employees, leads to a lot more issues. Then you add in the ability to just patch later and publisher greed being out of control.
 

gamerk2

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Blame the internet, get it out the door now and fix it later, back in the days of no internet on consoles for example, you had to try and ship a dam near perfect game right, sometimes you would find a couple bugs in a game, but usually nothing that would be game stopping!
And then you'd get a second run with v1.1 of the game, and 99.9% of the world would never know. But yes, as internet speeds have stopped being a concern (for most of us anyways) there's certainly the mindset of "fix it later".

Very true, forgot about that angle of it...
Work for a corporation for more then a few years, and you start to understand this line of thinking. They don't care about things like "success", they just want to make money NOW in order to meet their Wall Street expectations. There's very little concern at the corporate level for the long-term effect of multiple poor releases, only meeting the current financial obligations. So if the choice is "ship it broken and fix it later" or "delay until after Christmas to do it right", the option is quite obvious: Ship it now.
 

gamerk2

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You are wearing some heavy rose tinted glasses and also putting the blame squarely in one place when it's a pretty complex problem. Games are several orders of magnitude more complex, in terms of programming, now compared to the pre-internet days. Big games require hundreds of people working in tandem over multiple years to be completed. Programming complexity, combined with overworked and exhausted employees, leads to a lot more issues. Then you add in the ability to just patch later and publisher greed being out of control.
Larger, sure. But I've worked on large projects, and you can segment out independent systems easily enough. The problem is typically one of:

  • Not having clear direction, adding/removing features as project direction changes
    • Leads to a lot of loss of work that will often put the project behind
    • Leads to games that feel bland/unfinished
    • ME:A is a perfect example of this; built around real-time dynamically worlds, the actual "game" came together in just six months
  • Using toolsets not designed for what they are being used for
    • Leads to extra time/effort lost implementing support for features other engines already support
    • Frostbite outside of FPS titles is a perfect example; both ME:A and DA:I had to independently add features to support their RPG systems, leading to both time lost and duplication of effort
  • Feature Bloat
    • See: Star Citizen/Any game developed by Chris Roberts
  • Trying to copy the feel of another game
    • Example: Battlefield trying to copy Call of Duty
Projects with clear focus and direction typically come out relatively well, those that don't...don't. If you ever see producers change during development, avoid. If you ever hear about any design/focus changes, avoid. And so on.
 

MrGuvernment

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It might help game quality, but it's still going to depend on developers and publishers giving their programmers adequate time to fix anything that the QA team finds. For all we know, there could be hundreds of bug reports in games that go unfixed prior to launch simply because the publisher wants to hit a target date and refuses to give the development team time to address the reports. I think it might be more helpful in areas we don't see, early builds. That said, a union isn't going to be able to change how a studio feels about their QA team or how much they value that team's input.



You are wearing some heavy rose tinted glasses and also putting the blame squarely in one place when it's a pretty complex problem. Games are several orders of magnitude more complex, in terms of programming, now compared to the pre-internet days. Big games require hundreds of people working in tandem over multiple years to be completed. Programming complexity, combined with overworked and exhausted employees, leads to a lot more issues. Then you add in the ability to just patch later and publisher greed being out of control.
I am fully aware of how it works, i just simplified it,. the problem still lies with being rushed out the door usually by people up top as you noted. I was in charge of a dev team for an online poker site, i know how it all works. I also know how well a good team can work together and integrate code well with proper QA and Agile processes, but also dealt with a CEO who had a shiny new ball almost daily forcing us to release code we know had bugs that we could of fixed if given time.
 

gamerk2

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I am fully aware of how it works, i just simplified it,. the problem still lies with being rushed out the door usually by people up top as you noted. I was in charge of a dev team for an online poker site, i know how it all works. I also know how well a good team can work together and integrate code well with proper QA and Agile processes, but also dealt with a CEO who had a shiny new ball almost daily forcing us to release code we know had bugs that we could of fixed if given time.
Pretty much this. The *real* problem, nine out of ten times, is management. What a Union does, in theory, if forces management to address their own crap practises.
 

MrGuvernment

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Pretty much this. The *real* problem, nine out of ten times, is management. What a Union does, in theory, if forces management to address their own crap practises.
But also, Union can breed lazyness with their often archaic systems of having to hire internally and other things...at least from some companies I have delt with that have partial unions in some departments. They are always the slowest and laziest to get anything done cause "we in a union"
 

Derangel

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But also, Union can breed lazyness with their often archaic systems of having to hire internally and other things...at least from some companies I have delt with that have partial unions in some departments. They are always the slowest and laziest to get anything done cause "we in a union"

It’s really going to depend on who’s in charge of the union and how they run it. I’m sure there will be some growing pains as everything gets figured out. Having a union seems to be working out okay for Paradox so far, but that was the entire company and not just one department.
 

vegeta535

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Pretty much this. The *real* problem, nine out of ten times, is management. What a Union does, in theory, if forces management to address their own crap practises.
But the union management falls into the same traps and really don't address the issues themselves. I been in a union before and it really left a sour taste. It was no surprise when we got constantly under bid for everything. One job was 3 journeymen and 1 apprentice to change out one 40' pipe that required no welding. That job was scheduled for 7 10 hour days. I was the apprentice then and I did all the work while the journeymen fucked off somewhere else. So the plant we were working at paid almost $20k in labor to bolt 5 flanges together... The real kicker was on the last day we sat around for 4 hours after the day was complete waiting for our check because by union rules you suppose to receive your final check when you get laid off. So some poor sucker had to drive all the way down from NY at the end of the day to deliver us our checks. None of the journeymen or foreman on the job site would accept them being mailed to us.
 
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deadrody

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Thing is, the next step is collective bargaining. You don't get anything for nothing. Management will come to the table with areas they think are problematic with the workforce and the union will come to the table with areas of concern with management. They'll BOTH get some things in the process. They start with the status quo and everything one side wants to change will be balanced by something the other side wants. That's how it works.
 

imsirovic5

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May be an unpopular opinion but I don't understand what is the point of unions. Nobody can advocate better for my own interests than I can. If for any reason I think the company is paying me below market rate or is making my life difficult I will just switch to a place that is better suited for my needs. My bargaining power comes from my skills or what I bring to the table. Only way to improve my bargaining power is through my own actions such as improving my professional development, growing my network etc etc. Unions as any other entity put their own interests above everything else. This is why you can only rely on yourself to further your self interests.
 

Armenius

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May be an unpopular opinion but I don't understand what is the point of unions. Nobody can advocate better for my own interests than I can. If for any reason I think the company is paying me below market rate or is making my life difficult I will just switch to a place that is better suited for my needs. My bargaining power comes from my skills or what I bring to the table. Only way to improve my bargaining power is through my own actions such as improving my professional development, growing my network etc etc. Unions as any other entity put their own interests above everything else. This is why you can only rely on yourself to further your self interests.
It's easier to be an advocate for yourself when you are less replaceable. QA testers are considered the lowest rung in the game development hierarchy despite being a critical part of the development cycle, but they are no doubt low-skill ceiling and easily replaceable. On the other hand it eliminates motivation to go above and beyond the bare minimum, as you are guaranteed a salary and benefits level by virtue of the union contract.
 

sharknice

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I don't understand how some of you are hoping this will improve games. I've never heard of that happening in the real world. That isn't the purpose of a union, and it often does the opposite.

I worked a union job once and it was pretty nice because I got a lot of money for doing a super easy job.
But the speed and cost of the products we made was way higher because of the union. The union would only hire people with a 2 year college degree... for work a teenager could do with an hour of training.
It paid over 2x as much as you would get doing equivalent work somewhere else without a union, that cost was obviously getting passed on to the consumers.
Managers were afraid to even show me how to do something, because they would get in trouble for doing work only the union workers were allowed to do. If we were behind schedule they weren't allowed to help pick up the slack. Managers sat around doing nothing most of the time. Union workers would just do their quotas and never work faster, they weren't even allowed to in most cases. Pay was based on seniority, not quality of work. There was also a lot of the same BS you see in non-union jobs employees, but the BS was protected or sometimes even mandated by the union.
I only worked there 3 months as a temporary summer job, but it was fun experience.
 

vegeta535

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I don't understand how some of you are hoping this will improve games. I've never heard of that happening in the real world. That isn't the purpose of a union, and it often does the opposite.

I worked a union job once and it was pretty nice because I got a lot of money for doing a super easy job.
But the speed and cost of the products we made was way higher because of the union. The union would only hire people with a 2 year college degree... for work a teenager could do with an hour of training.
It paid over 2x as much as you would get doing equivalent work somewhere else without a union, that cost was obviously getting passed on to the consumers.
Managers were afraid to even show me how to do something, because they would get in trouble for doing work only the union workers were allowed to do. If we were behind schedule they weren't allowed to help pick up the slack. Managers sat around doing nothing most of the time. Union workers would just do their quotas and never work faster, they weren't even allowed to in most cases. Pay was based on seniority, not quality of work. There was also a lot of the same BS you see in non-union jobs employees, but the BS was protected or sometimes even mandated by the union.
I only worked there 3 months as a temporary summer job, but it was fun experience.
When I worked in the pipe fitter union I knew a own that left the union cause of the costs associated with them. He could hire a bunch of Mexicans to come in knock out the job and then pay his works to go back and fix everything for 1/4 the cost and time a union crew would take to do. Almost never was a job even done under budget or on time.
 

gamerk2

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May be an unpopular opinion but I don't understand what is the point of unions. Nobody can advocate better for my own interests than I can. If for any reason I think the company is paying me below market rate or is making my life difficult I will just switch to a place that is better suited for my needs. My bargaining power comes from my skills or what I bring to the table. Only way to improve my bargaining power is through my own actions such as improving my professional development, growing my network etc etc. Unions as any other entity put their own interests above everything else. This is why you can only rely on yourself to further your self interests.
It's simple: When you are working a job that is replicable (either because of a low skill ceiling or because there are enough potential replacements in the market), you have no mechanism to ask for more then you are making. If you are underpaid, work a ton of extra hours, and march into HR and demand you get paid "fairly", you are handed your papers; someone else will be more then happy to do the work you are currently doing for less.

With a Union, you have a large percentage of the entire workforce bargaining at once. Replacing the entire workforce is not a viable option (usually), which forces the company to the bargaining table.

Now, it's great when you are an irreplaceable worker and can legit go to HR and demand a 10% raise because you've been underpaid for years, as I did just this year. But that's the exception to the rule; for 95% of the workforce, the best possible outcome is "LOL No", and a note in your file reading "Disgruntled worker'.
 

LukeTbk

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May be an unpopular opinion but I don't understand what is the point of unions. Nobody can advocate better for my own interests than I can. If for any reason I think the company is paying me below market rate or is making my life difficult I will just switch to a place that is better suited for my needs. My bargaining power comes from my skills or what I bring to the table.

For some situation I think they can make a lot of sense, sometime the bargaining power would have been to out of balance without a coordination of workers.

Take when transportation shifted from horse to truck

1) The work became safer, easier, almost everyone able to do it at the same time
2) Single worker transported a giant amount more of merchandise by days

Transport exploded over time, but on the sudden shock you have way more possible worker for way less jobs with much more money going around, bargained has a way for worker to have some of the added profit going their way made sense.

There is all the single, quasi single employer that employ people that put lot of time in that profession where it could make a lot of sense has well (depending of countries The NHL, police workforce, a lot of state worker like teachers/nurse), sometime the state do not let the switch legal and would create an unbalance force relation with it's worker without an union or some other form of coordinations.
 
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