Blizzard studio drops unionization efforts due to “confrontational tactics” of management, CWA alleges

It’s certainly not the outcome employees wanted.

Image via Activision Blizzard

Boston-based Spellbreak studio Proletariat, which Blizzard purchased in July 2022, has reportedly dropped its plans to unionize. This is not due to any resolution for the issues that sparked the movement within the studio, as we’d hope to see from these kinds of stories, but because of the reportedly “confrontational tactics” employed by the company’s CEO.

Related: Contrary to its name, Blizzard-owned Proletariat refuses to recognize newly formed union

In a statement first released on GamesIndustry.biz, the Communication Workers of America said it was withdrawing its request for a unionization vote at Proletariat, which has been working primarily on World of Warcraft. Accusing CEO Seth Sivak of taking the concerns raised by workers as a personal attack on his leadership, the union stated that management had “demoralized and disempowered” employees to a point where a fair vote on the issue would be impossible. This comes after Activision Blizzard refused to acknowledge the union and insisted that any vote be taken with the National Labor Relations Board, which would allow them better control of the narrative.

On one hand, this is good news for Activision Blizzard, which has been fighting hard to prevent the studios under its umbrella, such as Raven Software and Blizzard Albany, from unionizing. Proletariat dropping the issue frees Blizzard management to focus on squeezing the proposed purchase of the publisher by Microsoft past the Federal Trade Commission’s latest lawsuit, but it also highlights to other studios why there may still be a need for unionization in the first place. At the time of writing, management at neither Proletariat nor Blizzard had released a statement regarding the union’s decision.

For their part, Microsoft has said that they would honor any agreement made by studios to unionize ahead of the merger with Activision Blizzard. Recently, the company voluntarily recognized the union formed by ZeniMax employees, including Bethesda and id Software, which gives hope to other games industry employees hoping to see the labor movement strengthen. The CWA statement alludes to this decision in its announcement, citing it as evidence that there is “another path forward” in the quest for open and fair dialogue between employees and management.