A group of about 300 video game testers working for Microsoft Corp.'s ZeniMax Studios voted to form what will be the software giant's first union and the largest in the video game industry.
Microsoft formally recognised the union, sticking to a labour neutrality pledge it made last summer, according to a statement from the Communications Workers of America, which represents the union. Microsoft said in June it would agree to recognise any group of workers who voted to organize, as it seeks to win regulatory support for its $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard Inc.
The labour movement is gaining steam in the gaming industry and the action at ZeniMax, the company behind games such as Starfield and Fallout, follows the creation of unions at three studios owned by Activision "- Wisconsin-based Raven Software, Massachusetts-based Proletariat and Blizzard Albany in New York. Quality assurance workers, who test the games for bugs and ensure they work properly, have been among the first to unionize in the games industry over low pay and poor working conditions.
In a statement, tester Skylar Hinnant called the move an "empowering victory" and said the unit hopes "this is the year in which game workers across the country exercise their power and reshape the industry as a whole."
ZeniMax, which includes The Elder Scrolls publisher Bethesda Softworks, Doom creator Id Software, and several other developers, was acquired by Microsoft for $7.5 billion in 2020.
A spokesperson for Microsoft and ZeniMax said the companies "look forward to engaging in good faith negotiations as we work towards a collective bargaining agreement."