UPDATED: Disgruntled employees at games developer Blizzard Entertainment — some of whom reportedly earn only minimum wage — have shared their compensation details in an internal document, hoping to spur the company to pay workers more fairly.
According to a Bloomberg report, a company employee created a spreadsheet and encouraged others to share their compensation info in its Slack system. Per the report, Blizzard staffers said most of their recent raises were less than 10%, far less than they expected after the company said it pledged to improve pay practices after conducting a study.
Some Blizzard producers and engineers have annual salaries above $100,000 but other workers like video-game testers and customer-service representatives say they earn minimum wage (or close to minimum wage), according to the self-reported compensation info reviewed by Bloomberg. A 2019 survey conducted by Blizzard found more than 50% were unhappy about their pay, per the report.
Activision Blizzard denied parts of Bloomberg’s report. First, the company said, “It is unequivocally not true that employees are paid minimum wage. We pay a minimum of 50% more than minimum wage compared to market minimum wage.”
In addition, Activision Blizzard said, the results of the 2019 compensation survey as reported by Bloomberg were inaccurate. According to the company, “significantly less than half” of employees reported dissatisfaction with their compensation.
For 2019, Activision Blizzard reported total revenue of $6.49 billion, down 13.5% year over year, and net income of $1.5 billion, down 17% from the year prior.
“Our goal has always been to ensure we compensate our employees fairly and competitively,” an Activision Blizzard rep said in a statement. “We are constantly reviewing compensation philosophies to better recognize the talent of our highest performers and keep us competitive in the industry, all with the aim of rewarding and investing more in top employees.”
In June, a pro-labor investor in Activision Blizzard, CtW Investment Group, launched a campaign to urge shareholders to reject the CEO Bobby Kotick’s $30 million compensation package after the company enacted broad layoffs last year across all divisions including Blizzard.
Blizzard, which has been under increasing pressure from is parent to cut costs, is best known for franchises including “World of Warcraft,” “Overwatch,” “StarCraft” and “Diablo,” as well as the multi-franchise “Heroes of the Storm.”
Activision Blizzard is scheduled to report Q2 earnings after market close Tuesday (Aug. 4).
UPDATED, Aug. 7, 8:30 a.m. PT: Added additional statements by Activision Blizzard disputing parts of Bloomberg’s original report.