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Activision Blizzard employees vote to form a union

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The union at Activision Blizzard is the first at a major gaming company. Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Activision

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Workers at game developer Activision Blizzard have voted to unionize. That’s the company behind games like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush. It’s also faced lawsuits and a federal investigation for accusations of discrimination and sexual harassment.

Microsoft is planning to buy the beleaguered company for $69 billion.

The new union, The Game Workers Alliance, comprises fewer than two dozen employees in one division of Raven Software, a subsidiary of Activision. But it’s the first union at a major company in the $180 billion gaming industry and could be a sign of things to come.

Note: This story was originally heard on “Marketplace Morning Report.” You can read the web version here.

One of the many legal challenges that Activision Blizzard was facing included a wrongful death lawsuit. According to a story in Axios, parents of a California woman alleged sexual harassment at work was a “significant factor” leading to her death while on a company retreat. The parents have since dropped the lawsuit.

Marielle was mentioning all the pressures developers face with “crunch time,” where they work extreme overtime to meet deadlines.

The International Game Developers Association asked about this in its 2021 Developer Satisfaction Survey, and found that 58% of employees “crunched” more than twice in the last two years. The group says that’s much higher than in 2019, when it was just 35%.

The Washington Post looked at why there is so much crunch in the gaming industry, and a 2021 story traces it back to, among other things, the labor laws that keep it legal.

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