An Activision Blizzard dev has urged that working conditions must be considered throughout the Microsoft merger, testifying in a hearing held by the FTC and DOJ yesterday. Brice Arnold, a researcher for the company, fears that industry consolidation – and therefore, fewer employers – will give bosses an unfair advantage, and take away workers' bargaining power.
Arnold says that the "impacts on workers need to be taken into account" before any deal with Microsoft is approved by regulators. He also says that if the FTC and DOJ find that the merger would negatively affect the reportedly poor working conditions at Activision Blizzard, then it should be blocked or forced to implement changes that benefit the workforce.
"My skills and experience as a Researcher in the Design Department for Activision are quite specialized in the video game industry," Arnold told the regulators. "Given the ongoing consolidation in the video game industry, there are fewer potential employers for my specialized skills.
"Video game workers already face many problems in our jobs that are made worse by employers having even more power. We are consistently paid less despite having the same job title and level of experience as workers in other tech industries."
Arnold says that the deal should not be allowed to pass if it is likely to give employers even more power. As it stands, issues of low pay, lack of job security, and harassment in the workplace are well documented across the industry. Should there be even fewer employers in gaming, it would take away the ability for developers to seek work elsewhere.
This follows on from doubts shared by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), a union that works closely with Activision Blizzard workers. Back in March, the union – along with 14 other organizations – said that the merger could lead to "worker disempowerment and wage suppression". It remains to be seen if the regulators are convinced by these arguments, or allow the deal to go through unopposed.
Activision Blizzard has been contacted for comment, but did not respond at the time of publication.
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