Employee on Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Activision Blizzard Inc., began circulating a spreadsheet on Friday, giving the latest example of the growing tension in the video game industry over pay and recent wage increases, pay inequality and executive compensation.
Blizzard, based in Irvine, California, makes popular games including Diablo and World of Warcraft. In 2019, after an internal survey revealed that more than half of Blizzard employees were unhappy with their compensation, the company told employees it would conduct a study to ensure fair pay according to people familiar with the situation. Blizzard implemented the results of that study last month, which caused panic in the company’s internal slack messaging boards.
An employee then created a spreadsheet and encouraged employees to share their compensation information. The anonymous document reviewed by Bloomberg News contains dozens of alleged icy salaries and pay scales. Most of the rises are below 10%, much less than Blizzard’s employees said they expected after the study.
“Our goal has always been to ensure that we compensate our employees appropriately and competitively,” said Jessica Taylor, a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard. “We are constantly reviewing the philosophy of compensation to better recognize the talent of our top performers and to keep the industry competitive in terms of rewarding top employees and investing more.”
Taylor said that this year, Blizzard’s top performers received a salary increase, 20% higher than in earlier years, and more people received promotions. “Our overall salary investment is in line with prior years,” he also said.
Wage inequality has become a hot button issue in the $ 150 billion video game industry as unionization calls for increases. Pro-labor group recently Active dismissal Blizzard for the salary of Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick. His 2019 compensation at the end of that year was $ 40 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and the package has since grown as the company’s stock has risen. Last year, the company also paid $ 15 million in stock awards and sign-on bonuses. Dennis Durkin, the incoming Chief Financial Officer. In the anonymous spreadsheet, an employee listed the CEO’s annual salary, bonus, and stock award.
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In internal messages reviewed by Bloomberg News, Blizzard employees said they were struggling to make ends meet due to an increase in Activision Blizzard revenue during the year. Some manufacturers and engineers at Blizzard can make more than $ 100,000 per year, but others, such as video game testers and customer-service representatives, often have a minimum wage or close to it.
Blizzard Entertainment has traditionally been autonomous from its parent company, but in recent years, Activision’s corporate office has pushed game-development studios Reduce expenditure The company ended last year Hundreds of jobs and some of the remaining employees were asked to take responsibility for those who were let go. According to people familiar with the company, the extra work did not come with a higher salary, who did not identify to discuss sensitive personal information.
A veteran Blizzard employee at Bloomberg News reported that he received a lift of less than 50 cents an hour. They are doing less now than they were nearly a decade ago because they are working less overtime than they were at the time. Many former Blizzard employees said they only received significant wage increases after leaving for other companies, such as a nearby competitor Riot Sports Inc. in Los Angeles.
In 2018 messages on internal Blizzard communication channels reviewed by Bloomberg News, employees talked about measures to save money to keep up with the company. An employee wrote that he had to give up food to pay the rent and used the company’s free coffee as an appetite suppressor. Another said that they would eat only oatmeal and bail at team lunches as they could not afford to buy food in the company cafeteria. A third said that he and his partner stopped talking about children because they knew they would not be able to afford it. Unlike the photos he saw of more senior Blizzard employees enjoying a holiday at Disneyland with his family.
– with assistance by Anders Mellin