600 QA workers at Microsoft-owned Activision form the largest gaming union in North America

Call of Duty: Warzone post MW3 changes
(Image credit: Activision)

What you need to know

  • Around 600 quality assurance (QA) employees at Microsoft-owned Activision have unionized, with the union being voluntarily recognized by Microsoft.
  • The union joins existing unions for QA employees at Raven Software, Blizzard Albany, and ZeniMax Media. 
  • Microsoft continues to maintain a neutral approach towards unionization as part of an extensive deal reached in 2022 in its successful bid to acquire Activision Blizzard.

Activision employees just formed the largest gaming union in North America. 

Around 600 quality assurance (QA) employees at Microsoft Gaming's Activision division have unionized at of Friday, forming Activision Quality Assurance United - CWA with assistance from the Communication Workers of America (CWA). The union includes workers from California, Minnesota, and Texas in the U.S, encompassing people that work on Activision franchises like Call of Duty.

The union was voluntarily recognized by Microsoft, and is now the largest union under Microsoft, joining the existing unions at Raven Software, Blizzard Albany, and ZeniMax Media, meaning over 1,000 QA workers are now unionized under Microsoft.

Speaking with Polygon, Activision QA tester Kara Fannon noted that Microsoft trained managers on maintaining neutrality toward unions, ensuring that the employees voting on the matter didn't have worry about union-busting. 

Microsoft's recent history of neutrality toward unions continues

QA testers at Bethesda Softworks were the first to unionize under Microsoft. (Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios)

Microsoft has eschewed union-busting tactics assumed by many other corporations ever since 2022, when the company signed an extensive neutrality deal as part of its successful bid to acquire Activision Blizzard for $69 billion. 

The first test of this agreement came in 2023, when over 300 quality assurance testers at Bethesda Softworks parent company ZeniMax Media — acquired by Microsoft for $8.1 billion in March 2021 — formed ZeniMax Workers United. 

Microsoft recognized the union, which includes testers at teams like Arkane Austin, Bethesda Game Studios, and id Software, and Microsoft has since worked with the union on multiple occasions, hiring additional Starfield testers as full-time employees and reaching tentative agreements on the role of AI in game development.

Analysis: Fantastic news

The first couple of months for this year have been rough, with thousands of workers laid off across Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Sony, Riot Games, and many, many, many more. So seeing positive news like this is a huge breath of fresh air. 

These workers never would've been able to unionize with this kind of ease without the Microsoft acquisition, and hopefully their work can help inspire other teams to unionize, both at other Microsoft-owned gaming divisions and elsewhere across the industry. 

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.