Microsoft is expected to spend $96 billion to buy a major video game developer. But there was a last minute move against it.
Microsoft is facing a labor score settling with U.S. video game developers preparing to form a union ahead of the tech giant’s billion-dollar takeover.
Last week, Microsoft announced its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, developers of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, for $96 billion. The purchase comes after Activision Blizzard was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for discrimination and harassment.
That lawsuit alleged that women in the company were paid less than men and “assigned to lower pay and opportunity levels.” He also accused the company of a culture of brotherhood in which men got drunk at work and crawled into women’s cubicles to harass them.
Now, staffers at Call of Duty studio Raven Software have said they intend to form a union.
Their group, the Game Workers Alliance, would be the first major group for an American video game manufacturer.
A concern for workers is that the union would not be official unless Activision voluntarily recognizes it or the group is certified through an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.
The union would represent only a small part of Activision Blizzard’s approximately 10,000 employees.
The announcement comes after 60 Raven employees staged a strike in December last year to protest dismissals of contract workers they said were unfair.
“We want to see changes that reflect the wants and needs of both the gaming community and the workers who create these incredible products,” Raven quality assurance employee Brent Reel said in a statement.
Acquiring Activision Blizzard is Microsoft’s most important goal.
It topped the company’s $26.2 billion (A$36.4 billion) purchase of LinkedIn in 2016. However, the deal is likely to face regulatory scrutiny given the size of the agreement.
The purchase comes as Microsoft and others seek to escape the power of the App Store’s mobile gaming ecosystem controlled by Apple and Google.
“This acquisition will accelerate the growth of Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud and provide building blocks for the metaverse,” Microsoft said in a statement.
“When the transaction closes, Microsoft will become the world’s third-largest games company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. The planned acquisition includes iconic franchises from Activision, Blizzard and King studios like Warcraft, Diablo , “Overwatch”, Call of Duty and Candy Crush, in addition to global eSports activities through Major-league Gaming.