Microsoft Welcomes ZeniMax Studios Unionization Efforts

Microsoft Welcomes ZeniMax Studios Unionization Efforts

Published: January 04, 2023

After quality assurance workers at ZeniMax Studios voted in favor of forming a union with Communications Workers of America (CWA), Microsoft officially became the home of the video game industry's largest union.

The vast majority of QA workers at ZeniMax studios voted to unionize following months of reports that something like that was in motion. Finally, in December, the news of the unionization effort was made public.

About 300 ZeniMax staff members participated in the unionization effort that Microsoft welcomed with open arms. ZeniMax’s parent company didn’t stand in the way of unionization. What’s more, it formally recognized ZeniMax Workers United and CWA, as well as yesterday's vote results.

The ZeniMax Workers United and CWA partnership is now the largest union in the video game industry, and the first U.S. union at Microsoft.

“In light of the results of the recent unionization vote, we recognize the Communications Workers of America as the bargaining representative for the Quality Assurance employees at ZeniMax,” a Microsoft spokesperson stated regarding the ZeniMax Studios vote. “We look forward to engaging in good faith negotiations as we work towards a collective bargaining agreement.”

Not every game studio shared the same success with unionization efforts. Activision Blizzard has been actively trying to quell Raven Software and Blizzard Albany’s attempts at unionizing with CWA. QA testers at both of the video game studios belonging to Activision Blizzard are yet to progress toward unionization.

They are, however, fighting the same battles that QA testers at ZeniMax Studios are. ZeniMax Workers United and CWA claim that the union will make the pay more equitable and the workload more evenly distributed. Currently, employees are facing the infamous “crunch periods” where they’re overworked to exhaustion due to time constraints and bad management decisions.

ZeniMax Studios’ flagship product is the MMORPG Elder Scrolls Online, but it’s also home to the Bethesda video game studio and all of its industry-defining titles.

Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media in 2021 brought Zenimax Studios and Bethesda under one roof for $7.5 billion.

At the moment, Microsoft is attempting to acquire Activision Blizzard, although the potential acquisition has caught the attention of numerous watchdogs. Sony, for one, is trying to stop the acquisition as it would make Xbox’s market share impossible to beat.

At the very least, QA testers from Activision Blizzard are likely to benefit from the acquisition, if Microsoft’s current track record is anything to go by.

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