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Report: Phil Spencer says Microsoft will recognize Raven Software union

Phil Spencer Xbox 20 Celebration
(Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Raven Software QA workers recently voted to become the North American gaming industry's first union, the Game Workers' Alliance.
  • Raven Software's parent company, Activision Blizzard, is currently in the process of being acquired by Microsoft for almost $69 billion. 
  • According to a report from Kotaku, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer says that once the deal goes through, Microsoft will recognize the union.

Unionization across the video game industry continues to be a hot topic, with more and more discussion surrounding workers' rights. Now, it appears that one of the industry's larger groups is accepting the idea of unions.

According to a report from Kotaku (opens in new tab), Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer told Xbox Game Studios employees in an all-hands meeting that Microsoft would recognize the Game Workers' Alliance union when the deal for Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard goes through.

“Linda Norman [deputy general counsel at Microsoft] and I have been spending a lot of time educating myself on unions.” Spencer said. “We absolutely support employees’ right to organize and form unions.”

The Xbox first-party group, which currently consists of 23 distinct development studios across Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks, does not currently have any unionized employees.

Spencer reportedly added that Microsoft is not currently talking with the Game Workers' Alliance as the deal hasn't finalized yet, “But when the deal closes, we will absolutely recognize [the union]."

The purchase, worth almost $69 billion, is currently undergoing regulatory review, though Microsoft president Brad Smith recently stated that it is moving fast, at least for a deal of its size.

“Once the deal closes, we would absolutely support [an] employees’ organization that’s in place,” Spencer said. “We think it is a right of employees and something that can be a part of a relationship between a company and people who work at the company.”

Raven Software QA workers recently voted to create the Game Workers' Alliance union, with 19 votes approving the union, two against, and two votes being challenged. 

In a statement to Windows Central, Activision Blizzard said that “We respect and believe in the right of all employees to decide whether or not to support or vote for a union. We believe that an important decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of roughly 350 people should not be made by 19 Raven employees."

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.