Skip to main content

Blizzard employees reveal salaries to highlight wage disparity

Blizzard Entertainment staff shared a spreadsheet among themselves at the end of July where employees could add their salary and information regarding their bonuses, according to Bloomberg. This was done in an attempt to illustrate the wage disparities at the company.

This comes after an internal survey was performed at the company last year that highlighted more than half of its employees were unhappy with their compensation. Management promised to perform an additional survey that would address the staff’s displeasure, but when the results of that study were implemented last month, there was outrage in the company’s Slack, so much so that an anonymous employee started a spreadsheet to gain transparency on the company’s attempt to fix the pay issues.

Many employees received raises below 10% of their annual salary, much lower than expected from the staff after the promises of the company’s survey. Bloomberg received internal correspondence from employees that denoted they were struggling to make ends meet. One employee noted their raise was a mere 50 cents an hour, and because they weren’t working as much overtime, they were actually making less than they did almost a decade ago.

Some workers in higher positions have salaries in the six-figure range and were given bonuses over 20%. Still, employees in roles such as quality assurance testing and customer-service make minimum wage or close to it. The average monthly cost to rent property in Irvine, California, where the company’s headquarters is located, is nearly $2,500.

Meanwhile, the company’s year-over-year revenue has grown, and its CEO Bobby Kotick enjoyed compensation in the $40 million range, while its new chief financial officer was awarded $15 million through stocks and a sign-on bonus.

One of the major issues stems from Blizzard’s parent company Activision forcing it to cut costs, which resulted in hundreds of lost jobs in 2019. The remaining staff were forced to pick up the workload of laid-off employees, but that did not come with wage increases. In Activision’s earnings call on Tuesday, it was revealed revenue was up nearly 40% from last year.

Some staff that haven’t left have taken drastic cost-cutting measures, including not eating lunch, over-caffeinating to suppress their appetite, and even giving up plans to have children.

A spotlight has been put on the gaming industry in 2020 as Blizzard is one of several companies going through scandals regarding the treatment of employees.

Editors' Recommendations

Tom Caswell
Professional video producer and writer, gaming enthusiast, and streamer! twitch.tv/greatbritom
Every key detail from Xbox’s business update: new console, multiplatform games, and more
Xbox's logo used during the Extended Games Showcase

Microsoft just released the latest episode of the Official Xbox Podcast, and it contained lots of crucial details on the future of Xbox. Microsoft addressed everything from how many games it will make multiplatform to the arrival of Activision Blizzard games on Xbox Game Pass to future Xbox hardware.

If you don't want to listen to the full 23-minute podcast and want more details than what's shared in the Xbox Wire post about the discussion, here's a quick rundown of the biggest points made during the episode.
Four Xbox games are going multiplatform
To kick things off, Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, addressed the multiplatform Xbox game rumors. "We made the decision that we’re going to take four games to the other consoles. Just four games, not a change to our kind of fundamental exclusive strategy,” he said. “We’re making these decisions for some specific reasons. We make every decision with the long-term health of Xbox in mind, and long-term health of Xbox means a growing platform, our games performing, building the best platform for creators, reaching as many players as we can."

Read more
The video game industry has laid off thousands this year. Here’s what that means for you
game developer layoffs january 2024 overwatch 2

Layoffs have unfortunately become a nearly nonstop occurrence in the video game industry over the past year. In 2023, over 10,000 workers at game studios lost their jobs, according to data from Game Industry Layoffs. In January 2024 alone, Kotaku reports that over 6,000 developers have already been laid off.

Layoffs at Microsoft hit particularly hard for players, as nearly 2,000 Microsoft developers were let go after years of optimistic promises from Xbox leadership over the Activision Blizzard acquisition, and a survival game project was canceled. While that's been the biggest wave so far this year, we've seen plenty of other companies cutting staff, from Riot Games to Eidos.

Read more
Xbox lays off 1,900 developers, cancels Blizzard’s survival game
A hunter crouches before footprints in Blizzard concept art.

Concept art from a now-cancelled Blizzard survival game. Blizzard Entertainment

Microsoft is laying off around 8% of its Gaming Workforce, affecting game developers across Xbox, ZeniMax Media, and the newly acquired Activision Blizzard.

Read more