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Blizzard Workers Share Salaries in Revolt Over Wage Disparities

Employees circulate spreadsheet to compare pay, recent raises. Activision CEO gets $40 million, while some staff skip meals

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bloomberg.com
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crazyCoconuts47d ago

"Some producers and engineers at Blizzard can make well over $100,000 a year, but others, such as video game testers and customer-service representatives, are often paid minimum wage or close to it." Yea, that's called supply/demand

ZeroBlue246d ago (Edited 46d ago )

Right, if your skillset is valuable enough, there will be someone that is willing to pay for it. It's unfortunate, but if what you do can be done by most anyone, your skills aren't that valuable. I recommend everyone broaden their skillset, set yourself apart from others in the job market. These days there really aren't even that many barriers, you can learn almost any skill simply by watching educational youtube videos.

RememberThe35746d ago (Edited 46d ago )

Too true. I'm in the trades and I learn a lot still from YT videos of old guys sharing their knowledge. It's always great to diversify but don't be afraid to specialize either. It can't be risky but it also can pay great.

OT: I usually fight for the little guy but, at least the way it's framed, this feels like whining. Producers are accountable to the product and it's reception, game testers are not. Engineers build the tool the games are made with, not customer service reps. Though all their jobs are important, the impact and necessity of these roles are not even close to comparable.

Godmars29046d ago

Would think game testers would be in high demand. Good ones able to spot bugs and general gameplay issues especially. Likewise service representatives, represent a company. Neither are really "burger-flipping" jobs and at the least deserve a living wage - which the minimum wage isn't.

crazyCoconuts46d ago

Not nearly as hard to find those as, say, engineers that know how to build a game engine. I mean, the amount of education and training you need are not even close to being comparable

Godmars29046d ago

Again, the point isn't who is or how qualified one group is over the over, but that either make enough to live off of in the face of record profits and their bosses getting paid, to the literal nth power by comparison, just for signing up.

RememberThe35746d ago

Maybe a rise in the federal minimum wage would help?

Christopher46d ago

@RememberThe357: https://www.paycor.com/reso...

California sees a $1 increase in minimum wage in 2020 (an 8% increase) for a total of $13/hour. Problem is, that's not a lot in California. The cost of living (specifically housing) is high there. A Federal increase likely won't ever match the state-defined amount.

Godmars29046d ago (Edited 46d ago )

@Christopher:
The problem still remains that you've got executives who are overpaying themselves, handing out bonuses to themselves on top of that, while at the same time short changing those under them. Directly applying a devaluing mentality to others and factoring it into how they make profits.

Christopher45d ago

***The problem still remains that you've got executives who are overpaying themselves, handing out bonuses to themselves on top of that, while at the same time short changing those under them.***

They don't determine their own salaries. The stakeholders do that.

https://corpgov.law.harvard...

HaveAsandwich45d ago

^^^^^^^

Minimum wage goes up, prices will follow. You aren't going to win if you're relying on minimum wage increases.

Godmars29045d ago

@Christopher:
And i'm certain that the process isn't effected by company executives. That since its profit driven books aren't cooked and employee salaries and benefits aren't effected.

Ethics or morals aren't factors is what I'm getting at.

@HaveAsandwich:
The National US minimum wage has not significantly changed in almost fifty years. Meanwhile prices for consumer good and cost of living have gone up regardless.

Christopher45d ago (Edited 45d ago )

***Minimum wage goes up, prices will follow. You aren't going to win if you're relying on minimum wage increases.***

This hasn't been shown to be true. Wage increases in the last 5 years have not shown increases in the pricing of products. Product pricing has increased at a steady rate before and after the minimum wage increases. Minimum wage increases tend to come *after* hikes in housing costs, not before. Meaning they're actually a response to price increases and not the other way around.

***And i'm certain that the process isn't effected by company executives. That since its profit driven books aren't cooked and employee salaries and benefits aren't effected.***

Stakeholders care about their own profits. They will get rid of executives with ease who fail to meet their requirements. While morals are a factor, those morals are all focused on greed here. Executives have to be focused on matching that greed.

I'm not sitting here praising the system of capitalism we have right now, but saying executives write their own salaries isn't how that's done.

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46d ago
HaveAsandwich45d ago (Edited 45d ago )

How is that idea STILL being used as a talking point. Engineers making 100k a year, and testers making close to minimum wage. Baffling! Its an impossible concept to understand!

crazyCoconuts45d ago

It's actually not impossible. I recommend a few intro courses in economics

Godmars29045d ago

Thing is those testers need to be able to communicate with those engineers even if only through bug reports. They also require some understanding of what they're testing, with some testers likely even learning to be engineers.

Never mind that most are sub-contracted from 3rd party companies at point, so are even less likely to gain experience, contacts within the main company, or be even less valued.

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Christopher47d ago (Edited 47d ago )

CEO gets paid for boosting stockholder wealth. That's his job. He's doing a great job of it.

And people there aren't having any issues not felt in almost every industry in the U.S. Let alone that they at least have full-time jobs rather than working two part-time jobs and having no access to work-provided health care.

This really isn't an issue with the video game industry. It's an issue with California's cost of living, affordable housing, access to affordable healthcare, and generally minimum wages not being able to provide for what people need.

Zodiac47d ago

It is an issue with the industry because these pay disparities are part of the same system and culture that keep wages down while prices go up, creating a huge gap. These things may be magnified in certain states, but this ideology is present at every level throughout the country.

Christopher47d ago

Again, not an industry-specific issue. This is happening everywhere. It's systemic, not something special to video game developers.

Zodiac47d ago (Edited 47d ago )

My main gripe was the California comment. Of course, yes, it is a systemic issue. So yes, it’s not a “video game industry issue”, but it is an issue that the industry could very easily choose no to contribute to. Also, there are especially of the industry that don’t translate across the board - such as unionizing. Television and film have proper unionization, which gaming doesnt have at all. Obviously pay disparity will still exist, but there are visible markers that other tech and entertainment industries have hit that the game industry still lags behind in.

Due to this, it’s game creators who face direct repercussions of missed sales expectations or other misfires, which then result in a studio deciding to perform layoffs, sell itself off, or extreme situations, shut down completely. This has made programming, art, game writing, and other roles in the game industry much more economically fraught than screenwriting, film production, costume designing, and the dozens of other union-protected roles that exist in film and television.

Anyway, I’m ranting and it’s not directly related to wage disparity - completely- but I do think gaming is behind behind some of its sibling in the genre of the entertainment industry, where wages may be better and better protected.

Shikoku46d ago (Edited 46d ago )

Yeah it's fine to pay someone 30 million and then layoff 800 people during record profit years, then hire a new CFO and pay him 30 million that's just country wide problem right? No it isn't. The problem is people believing it's fine for the CEO to make 500x what the bottom person in the company makes and still believe "yeah thats fine". Did you people not read people were skipping meals and not have children so they can survive? This is why unionization will come to the gaming world.

monkey60246d ago

Bobby Kotticks annual salary before bonuses and shares is grotesque. There's no 2 ways about it.
Throw in the "cost saving measures" Activision pulled last year and you see something very wrong with the business

With the issues of Crunch, Abuse, Rape, and Poor Pay among a number of other common offenses I'd wonder why anyone works in the industry at all. Its absolutely rotten to its core

But then not unique either I guess. People are just scumbags in general

Christopher46d ago

Where did I say it's fine? The issue here is that this isn't a video game industry problem, it's a problem everywhere.

People can't criticize video game CEOs and think that it's going to change for the video game industry when that's how it works for all CEOs at big companies. The video game issues aren't going to suddenly get fixed because this is how it is.

Unionizing isn't going to stop Kotick from making his money. It might get some people some higher wages, maybe better benefits. But it's not going to change that others are still going to be paid out ridiculous sums of money.

To make the changes people truly want the only real solution is providing universal benefits for people by taxing the wealthiest at a higher amount to help pay for them since they aren't providing them at a reasonable level at their jobs as well as ensuring corporations are paying federal taxes at a reasonable rate rather than using off shore methods to limit such things.

Godmars29046d ago

At this point CEOs get paid for potential rather than delivered value. Sadly part of that potential comes from shortchanging the people who do the needed work.

kneon46d ago (Edited 46d ago )

From what I've seen over the years it looks like video game developers make less than they would in another industry, and have worse working conditions.

For almost 20 years I worked as a developer for a California based tech company, though I wasn't located there. When I started there back in the late 90's I was already making over 100k. Salaries in the video games industry don't seem to have kept up with the rest of the software industry.

Christopher46d ago

The issue with video game development is that there is so much competition for junior to mid level work that they are not concerned with keeping you on past the completion of the game. Other tech companies want to keep people on as long as possible so they grow with the company.

That concept isn't as much a part of the gaming industry because once a game is done, they'll move the high level people who are "essential" and go with whomever else can support their needs.

Additionally, most contract-based IT companies make more off employees with more experience and can charge at a higher scale. This is especially true with any government contract.

Godmars29046d ago

"CEO gets paid for boosting stockholder wealth. That's his job."

Only the decades long argument has been that such sole profit focus is a massive problem. Its what literally caused the 80's industry crash.

Christopher46d ago

With gaming in the mainstream market now and thriving due to technology and the Internet, it going bust is as likely as the crash of the movie, tv, or music industry. Just not going to happen. Comparing it to the niche market of the 80s, not really comparable.

As far as the sole profit focus design, that's a capitalistic design issue. No one is going to bail out an industry, but a new company will always be there to buy out a failing studio or the like. Right now, the top 3 console makers make a profit and so do the big publishers. A crash isn't even close to imminent.

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Zodiac47d ago

Those at the “bottom” always put in the most labor to create the product that generate the wealth for those at the “top”. The chairs the devs sit in should get paid more than the suits. These practices and systems are not ethically defensible, no matter how badly some of you want them to be.

Vegamyster46d ago

Is is hard to imagine if you go to school and learn a specific set of required skills that you'll get paid more than someone that doesn't?

nommers45d ago

The question though is how good or hard to find do your specific skills really need to be to just get a livable wage in some industries. I don’t think you should have to be at an expert level to get a minimum sole livable wage.

Testers are a skill well above burger flipping or food stocking and shouldn’t be compensated anywhere close to it.

Mithan46d ago

The "Suites" are the ones who create a company. They hire people "at the bottom" to work for them, using the money that Investors risk with them. These people are hired based on needs, the harder it is to fill a position, the higher the compensation package, the easier, the lower. The "bottom" people submit a resume, go through an interview process and then freely negotiate a compensation package where they trade their labor, for money that was agreed upon when they signed the contract to work there.

What is ethically indefensible about it?

If these workers truly have a problem with their lot in life, they should work to improve it, either by getting more skills and climbing the skill ladder, unionizing and demanding more money, creating their own company that is run the way they want to run it or going to a different industry.

Gheritt_White45d ago

Remind me, which company did Bobby Kotick "create" exactly?

Zodiac45d ago (Edited 45d ago )

If I’m not actually creating the content that makes me my money, I don’t deserve to be paid more than those who do. They do the work, they get better pay. Simple. You cannot defend making more money off of someone’s labor than they make themselves off that same labor, especially if it is that labor that keeps my company alive.

Also unionizing isn’t so simple. A company can easily just fire anyone who tried to unionize. Also that isn’t the solution. All a union can do is get you a slightly higher paycheck and maybe some better job security, but your labor and wealth are still being stolen.

46d ago
sourOG46d ago

The game tester doesn’t make as much as the engineer. What a sick, sad world.

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