Tony Hawk’s developers at rebranded Blizzard Albany announce union plans

QA (quality assurance) staff at Blizzard Albany, the studio behind Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, have announced plans to unionise.

The group, named GWA Albany, has said it is pushing for fairer pay, improved healthcare benefits and more transparency in addressing workplace issues.

Addressing crunch is another key demand, with staff asking for the establishment of “reasonable protocols” to address times when they are asked to work extended hours.

This is the second planned unionisation within Activision Blizzard as a whole following the recent, long-running and ultimately successful push by Call of Duty studio Raven Software to win unionisation for QA staff there.

Around 20 staff are now organising under the GWA Albany banner.

“QA is currently an undervalued discipline in the games and software industries,” the group wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “We strive to foster work environments where we are respected and compensated for our essential role in the development process.

“We, the QA testers of Blizzard Albany are committed to fostering an open, diverse and equitable workplace. We demand an environment where our skills, ideals, and democratic decisions are valued and respected.”

Speaking to The Verge, GWA organising committee member Amanda Laven said the group had begun discussing unionisation around the same time as colleagues at Raven, and had been galvanised by their ultimately successful campaign.

“They [Activision] have failed [at union busting] and will continue to fail – we are strong together and we know it,” Laven said.

Activision Blizzard has commented to say it will provide a formal response to the group’s proposal soon.

Founded in 1991 as Vicarious Visions and bought by Activision Blizzard in 2005, the studio has a long history with some of Activision’s most successful franchises past and present: Tony Hawk, Guitar Hero, Skylanders, Destiny and Crash Bandicoot.

In 2021, the studio was flipped from Activision to Blizzard, with staff put to work on Diablo 2: Resurrected and the developer’s name rebranded to Blizzard Albany.

Tony Hawk himself recently revealed that Vicarious Visions had been working on early plans for a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3+4 at the time. Sadly, these have now been scrapped.