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spartaman64

Blizzard employees post their salaries to protest

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Posted · Original PosterOP
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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 workers were unhappy with their compensation, the company told staff it would perform a study to ensure fair pay, according to people familiar with the situation. Blizzard implemented the results of that study last month, which led to an outcry on the company’s internal Slack messaging boards.

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One employee then created a spreadsheet and encouraged staff to share their compensation information. The anonymous document, reviewed by Bloomberg News, contains dozens of purported Blizzard salaries and pay bumps. Most of the raises are below 10%, significantly less than Blizzard employees said they expected following the study.

“Our goal has always been to ensure we compensate our employees fairly and competitively,” Activision Blizzard spokeswoman Jessica Taylor said. “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.”

This year, Blizzard top performers received a salary increase that was 20% more than in prior years, and more people got promotions, Taylor added. “Our overall salary investment is consistent with prior years,” she also said.

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One veteran Blizzard employee told Bloomberg News they received a raise of less than 50 cents an hour. They are making less now than they did almost a decade ago because they are working fewer overtime hours than they did back then. Several former Blizzard employees said they only received significant pay increases after leaving for other companies, such as nearby rival Riot Games Inc. in Los Angeles.

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In internal messages reviewed by Bloomberg News, Blizzard employees said they were struggling to make ends meet while watching Activision Blizzard revenue grow year after year. Some producers and engineers at Blizzard can make well over $100,000 a year, but others, such as video game testers and customer-service representatives, are often paid minimum wage or close to it.

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In 2018 messages on internal Blizzard communication channels reviewed by Bloomberg News, employees talked about money-saving measures they’ve taken to remain with the company. One employee wrote that they had to skip meals to pay rent and that they used the company’s free coffee as an appetite suppressant. Another said they would only eat oatmeal and bail on team lunches because they couldn’t afford to buy food at the company cafeteria.

source: https://time.com/5875371/blizzard-wage-disaparities/

 

I'm sort of torn on this. It's sort of expected for testers and customer service reps to be paid less and you shouldn't go into those positions expecting to make lots of money. But the report that employees got significant pay raises when they left for other companies shows that there are problems with pay and raises at blizzard. 

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19 minutes ago, spartaman64 said:

It's sort of expected for testers and customer service reps to be paid less and you shouldn't go into those positions expecting to make lots of money.

Cost of living is super high and they require local workers. They should either pay a reasonable salary or hire people to work remotely and let them relocate to cheaper places.

 

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6 minutes ago, spartaman64 said:

source: https://time.com/5875371/blizzard-wage-disaparities/

 

I'm sort of torn on this. It's sort of expected for testers and customer service reps to be paid less and you shouldn't go into those positions expecting to make lots of money. But the report that employees got significant pay raises when they left for other companies shows that there are problems with pay and raises at blizzard. 

It's usually considered unprofessional to share wage data, but the thing is... that's why. Because people who aren't being paid fairly will immediately notice. This is particularly the case with men and women doing the exact same job, and people from different cultures working the exact same job. This is why gamedev as well as animation has to be unionized to survive. What's largely been happening is that companies have been trying to do more with less. Like why is crunch even a thing? Hire more people. Why are alpha/beta/pre-release/early-access testers paying for the games, they should be the ones paid to test the game.

 

It's really bizarre sometimes when you learn that AAA game developers resort to the kind of 'indie developer' work ethic, like that is somehow a good thing. No, indies sink a lot of (crunch) time into developing their games and do not have the human resource capital to make a game any other way. An AAA developer that is paying their CEO 400x the amount of their programmers is not that.

 

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There are a couple countries where salaries are public information and posted nationally.  I’ve long thought it was a great idea.  This whole “salary is no one else’s business” thing benefits only the employer and damages everyone else. The only thing it does is permit abuse.


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6 minutes ago, Kisai said:

It's usually considered unprofessional to share wage data, but the thing is... that's why. Because people who aren't being paid fairly will immediately notice. This is particularly the case with men and women doing the exact same job, and people from different cultures working the exact same job.

Which is exactly why you should do it. The more employees let employers make their salaries into top-secret information, the broader their ability to pay everyone less.


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Global warming is real, even Blizzard's on fire from the inside


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26 minutes ago, spartaman64 said:

source: https://time.com/5875371/blizzard-wage-disaparities/

 

I'm sort of torn on this. It's sort of expected for testers and customer service reps to be paid less and you shouldn't go into those positions expecting to make lots of money. But the report that employees got significant pay raises when they left for other companies shows that there are problems with pay and raises at blizzard. 

Currently in the US job market the main way you can get a pay raise or promotion is if you leave your current employer. It’s rare to find companies that treat employees fairly. This is not isolated to Blizzard or the gaming industry.

 

I’ve interviewed at some of the most prominent companies here where during the interview they made it clear to me that they don’t want me to study part-time because that’ll mean I’m going to ask for a promotion and a raise. Actually how they told me was that they don’t the first person who I spoke with to get his MBA because they’ll have to pay him more! Similarly, some employers keep you extremely busy with busy work to hinder your ability to go on interviews or find another job; no lunch and breakfast aren’t free/benefits they want you at your desk so you can’t get any ideas.

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17 minutes ago, Bombastinator said:

There are a couple countries where salaries are public information and posted nationally.  I’ve long thought it was a great idea.  This whole “salary is no one else’s business” thing benefits only the employer and damages everyone else. The only thing it does is permit abuse.

I second that


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4 minutes ago, Pickles - Lord of the Jar said:

There are a couple countries where salaries are public information and posted nationally.  I’ve long thought it was a great idea.  This whole “salary is no one else’s business” thing benefits only the employer and damages everyone else. The only thing it does is permit abuse.

Don't quote me on that I could be wrong, but I thought there was a law in California preventing employers from disallowing employees' salary talk. Regardless I'm sure they can bully people into keeping it secret.

 

It's unfortunate but they are not the only ones in the software industry to be "exploiting passion".

 


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40 minutes ago, gabrielcarvfer said:

Cost of living is super high and they require local workers. They should either pay a reasonable salary or hire people to work remotely and let them relocate to cheaper places.

 

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They don't require local workers. Heck, Ubisoft is doing remote playtest now.
Not that they'll pay you for it lol


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12 minutes ago, fldujit said:

Don't quote me on that I could be wrong, but I thought there was a law in California preventing employers from disallowing employees' salary talk. Regardless I'm sure they can bully people into keeping it secret.

Ummm it’s Federal Law. Employees can talk about wages all the time. Employers can’t do anything, employers who have face fines. 

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59 minutes ago, Bombastinator said:

There are a couple countries where salaries are public information and posted nationally.  I’ve long thought it was a great idea.  This whole “salary is no one else’s business” thing benefits only the employer and damages everyone else. The only thing it does is permit abuse.

On the other hand this would make it harder for more qualified or more experienced individuals to negotiate higher salaries - because "if everyone gets paid x amount of money, you should get the same". Whereas when it's not public information, you negotiate that individually and privately, you also don't get "dirty looks" from people who earn less on similar positions because they don't know what you make.

If the offer from the employer doesn't satisfy you - leave the company. This is what I would do.

Don't take what I said as an excuse for Blizzard's behavior, it's reprehensible. But it's not only their fault, California is ran terribly and has ridiculously high taxes and cost of life so that's probably the main issue for both Blizzard and its employees.


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59 minutes ago, Jet_ski said:

Currently in the US job market the main way you can get a pay raise or promotion is if you leave your current employer. It’s rare to find companies that treat employees fairly. This is not isolated to Blizzard or the gaming industry.

 

I’ve interviewed at some of the most prominent companies here where during the interview they made it clear to me that they don’t want me to study part-time because that’ll mean I’m going to ask for a promotion and a raise. Actually how they told me was that they don’t the first person who I spoke with to get his MBA because they’ll have to pay him more! Similarly, some employers keep you extremely busy with busy work to hinder your ability to go on interviews or find another job; no lunch and breakfast aren’t free/benefits they want you at your desk so you can’t get any ideas.

My boss: “I don’t care what you do with your free time. You can sleep, or try to sneak away from my company like a sniveling rat, it’s all the same.”

 

jk. 😛

 


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Activision Blizzard has reputation of firing people to replace them with people that get payed even less, they are not trustworthy don't forget they also ban players without proof for cheating like highest level player in OW that got unbanned due lack of proof, or in case of @Slick being banned without proof.

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27 minutes ago, Donut417 said:

Ummm it’s Federal Law. Employees can talk about wages all the time. Employers can’t do anything, employers who have face fines. 

Americans tend not to discuss pay because money always gets in the way of group work. People also don't like to look bad at negotiating deals, so, weirdly, the more you're paid the less you talk about it. If you ever worked retail, you pretty much know instantly what everyone is making. If you're working salary, a lot less discussion about it.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
7 minutes ago, Morgan MLGman said:

On the other hand this would make it harder for more qualified or more experienced individuals to negotiate higher salaries - because "if everyone gets paid x amount of money, you should get the same". Whereas when it's not public information, you negotiate that individually and privately, you also don't get "dirty looks" from people who earn less on similar positions because they don't know what you make.

If the offer from the employer doesn't satisfy you - leave the company. This is what I would do.

Don't take what I said as an excuse for Blizzard's behavior, it's reprehensible. But it's not only their fault, California is ran terribly and has ridiculously high taxes and cost of life so that's probably the main issue for both Blizzard and its employees.

the way to fix that imo is to set clear performance targets etc so people know exactly where they are at

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12 minutes ago, Morgan MLGman said:

On the other hand this would make it harder for more qualified or more experienced individuals to negotiate higher salaries - because "if everyone gets paid x amount of money, you should get the same". Whereas when it's not public information, you negotiate that individually and privately, you also don't get "dirty looks" from people who earn less on similar positions because they don't know what you make.

If the offer from the employer doesn't satisfy you - leave the company. This is what I would do.

Don't take what I said as an excuse for Blizzard's behavior, it's reprehensible. But it's not only their fault, California is ran terribly and has ridiculously high taxes and cost of life so that's probably the main issue for both Blizzard and its employees.

Supposition but not impossible.  Luckily it’s been tested.  I believe one of the countries that does it is Sweden.  Japan I believe does the tax thing.  They’ve even been doing it for a while.  They will have data.  There’s a lot of factors.  If the supposition is correct for example it may affect how people report experience, and how they switch jobs.  It might for example be correct but not a huge total factor.  


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1 minute ago, Bombastinator said:

Supposition but not impossible.  Luckily it’s been tested.  I believe one of the countries that does it is Sweden.  Japan I believe does the tax thing.  They’ve even been doing it for a while.  They will have data.  There’s a lot of factors.  If the supposition is correct for example it may affect how people report experience, and how they switch jobs.  It might for example be correct but not a huge total factor.  

Sweden has a completely different socioeconomic system - it's not possible to "transplant" selected parts of that system to the US as a whole. It operates under a set of conditions that make it viable, those conditions are not met in the US and never will be.


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"but others, such as video game testers and customer-service representatives, are often paid minimum wage or close to it."

 

No offense but that's pretty much true everywhere, even in socialist paradises. 


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8 minutes ago, Morgan MLGman said:

On the other hand this would make it harder for more qualified or more experienced individuals to negotiate higher salaries - because "if everyone gets paid x amount of money, you should get the same". Whereas when it's not public information, you negotiate that individually and privately, you also don't get "dirty looks" from people who earn less on similar positions because they don't know what you make.

If the offer from the employer doesn't satisfy you - leave the company. This is what I would do.

Don't take what I said as an excuse for Blizzard's behavior, it's reprehensible. But it's not only their fault, California is ran terribly and has ridiculously high taxes and cost of life so that's probably the main issue for both Blizzard and its employees.

No one likes to talk about the two major reasons for a lot of "cost-cutting" moves with employees: the rise of executives with MBAs that are actually terrible at economic analysis & back-side State Employment Taxes. The first really is a global problem, but the second crops up everywhere in slightly different versions. For the American side of things, an employee making 50k USD a year can cost a company anywhere from 75k to well over 100k per year depending on compensation requirements, taxes and other assorted fees. This is how Texas has been pillaging companies from other States, as their back-side taxes are quite low, along with a low cost-of-living.

 

There's also an inter-related aspect that people view their income in the form of Disposable rather than "Real" terms. People are a lot happier when they feel like they have solid Disposable Income, especially since "income crunch" is a brutal amount of stress.

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This sounds like BS to me.

A bunch of whiny people who want more money and when they didn't get the raise they wanted, they try and protest.

 

Are people really surprised that video game testers and customer service representatives have poor salaries? It's not exactly high-tier job to test games. They are low skill, low paid jobs.

 

The whole story about someone having to skip meals and drinking a bunch of free coffee from Blizzard' coffee machine to suppress their appetite does not sound like a Blizzard problem. That sounds like a "I am heavily in debt because of ill financial decisions" problem and now that person wants Blizzard to give them a bunch of money to fix it. I mean it's terrible that the person is in such a situation, but if you can't even afford food then your expenses must be very high, even if your salary is low.

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1 hour ago, givingtnt said:

They don't require local workers. Heck, Ubisoft is doing remote playtest now.
Not that they'll pay you for it lol

"Early access" ... turning traditional cost centers (play testing) into revenue streams.

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32 minutes ago, Morgan MLGman said:

Sweden has a completely different socioeconomic system - it's not possible to "transplant" selected parts of that system to the US as a whole. It operates under a set of conditions that make it viable, those conditions are not met in the US and never will be.

Vaguaries.  They’ve got higher taxes and a different health care system and a bunch of other stuff.  So numbers from Sweden won’t match numbers from the US, and “perks” would get measured wildly differently.  There are a lot fewer of them in Sweden.  Or rather a lot of the things thought of as perks in the US are gotten by everyone because they’re handled by the state.  Like healthcare.  Doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be measurable though.  Also doesn’t make it impossible as is implied.  Would make things different.  It could underline some interesting things perhaps.  Like the claim that US spends twice as much as other countries for worse health care.  The number might not be correct. It would produce some harder numbers.
 

 A company doing a job correctly knows exactly what their cost per employee is.  Perks tend to be under valued or not factored in. 
 

I notice you’re not treating the Japan one at all. 


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