Microsoft is now the home of the video game industry’s largest union

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Quality assurance workers at ZeniMax Studios have voted in favor of forming a union with Communications Workers of America — and ZeniMax’s parent company, Microsoft, didn’t stand in the way. Microsoft formally recognized ZeniMax Workers United/CWA alongside today’s vote results, making this the largest union in the video game industry and the first US union at Microsoft overall.

About 300 ZeniMax staff members were involved in the unionization effort, which was brewing for months before going public in early December. This was around the time QA testers at another major video game studio, Blizzard Albany, voted to unionize with CWA. The Blizzard Albany union is the second at parent company Activision Blizzard, after QA staff at Raven Software voted to organize in May 2022.

The employees behind ZeniMax Workers United/CWA argue that the union will help put an end to sudden periods of crunch, make pay more equitable, and improve communication with management, among other workplace benefits. ZeniMax Studios specializes in online experiences and is responsible for Elder Scrolls Online. The studio was absorbed by Microsoft in March 2021 as part of the broader ZeniMax Media acquisition, a $7.5 billion deal that brought Bethesda and other prominent development houses under the Xbox banner.

Microsoft is currently attempting to acquire — emphasis on attempting — Activision Blizzard, which would tie all of these unionization campaigns together. Activision Blizzard has actively tried to quell organization efforts, while Microsoft in June said it would respect all unionization efforts at Activision Blizzard. The ZeniMax vote was the first big test of Microsoft’s neutrality when facing internal unionization.

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