Raven Software head Brian Raffel announced in an email sent to staff on Monday that the studio’s QA staff would be embedded into various departments throughout the company, such as animation, design, and engineering. This news comes days after Raven QA workers voted to unionize in the midst of a lengthy strike.
Polygon reporter Nicole Carpenter obtained a copy of the email and shared it on Twitter for public viewing.
According to multiple game developers, embedding QA staff into various departments is a fairly standard industry practice. “It gets them closer to the rest of their teammates,” said one verified developer on ResetEra. “It is how QA should actually function.”
That said, the timing of this organizational shift has raised plenty of eyebrows. Many game industry employees and community members have accused Raven Software leadership of attempting to disrupt the formation and approval of a QA union. Jessica Gonzalez, a former Blizzard employee who founded the ABK Workers Alliance — a coalition of Activision-Blizzard workers calling for organizational change within the company — posited that the shift could be intended to separate unionizing workers from each other to make the group less likely to successfully unionize.
Valentine Powell, a Blizzard engineer, also voiced concern that the newly announced shift has “the potential to dilute [employees’] ability to unionize cohesively.” Carpenter noted that successful unionization efforts require workers to prove a “community of interest,” and stated that embedding Raven QA workers into different departments could make fulfilling that criteria a little more complicated.
Raven Software QA workers announced their intention to form a union, dubbed the Game Workers Alliance (GWA) on January 21. Activision-Blizzard has yet to recognize the union, but a statement by the company declared that it is “carefully reviewing the request for voluntary recognition from the CWA.”