As part of the earnings call Activision Blizzard had on Tuesday, the company revealed their second quarter revenue to be $1.93 billion USD. However, CEO Bobby Kotick warned investors, “Economic uncertainty could have an impact on our near-term results.” One element of that economic uncertainty could be lurking right inside his own organization.
According to reports on Bloomberg the day before the earnings call, Blizzard employees were discussing pay disparities amongst themselves through Slack and putting their salaries up on a shared document to serve as a basis for comparison, including a few attempts to put Kotick’s pay in one of the lines. In the wake of that earnings call, however, Bloomberg is reporting that Blizzard employees have finished gathering the data and they’re not happy about the picture that has emerged.
Some workers within the organization are making less than $40,000 USD annually. While that may sound like a decent enough salary on its face, it’s less than half the median household income for Irvine, California (where Blizzard is based). Moreover, the low wages are proving to be at least one cause of considerably employee turnover. Anonymous sources told Bloomberg writer Jason Schreier that they received up to double their earlier salary in some instances after leaving Blizzard for other opportunities.
Employees have presented a list of requests through the company’s Slack network, starting with a more realistic pay scale, as well as increased sick and vacation time. Blizzard ostensibly implemented a plan last week to try address dissatisfaction in pay reported from an employee survey in 2019, but it seems those efforts have fallen far short of correcting the problem. Dustin Blackwell, a spokesman for Blizzard, said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg, “We will continue to adapt our compensation to build and keep the workforce our company needs today and tomorrow. We understand that some Blizzard employees have specific requests, and we look forward to hearing from them directly.”
It should be noted, at this point, that there has not been any attempt made by Blizzard employees to unionize. Right now, they seem to be restricting themselves to a more data-driven approach. What may come of that is unknown, but Blizzard employees who spoke to Schreier indicated that they were disappointed the pay discussion was not mentioned in the earnings call. Whether Bobby Kotick is entirely aware of the situation or not is a matter of conjecture.