Activision Blizzard, the gaming giant recently acquired by Microsoft, is planning on shifting all its “temporary and contingent” QA team members to full-time status. That will result in a minimum hourly rate of $20 for those workers.
As The Verge helpfully breaks down, the shift comes after Activision Blizzard subsidiary Raven Software announced plans to lay off its QA workers, which sparked protests and attempts to create a union. (In an ironic twist, Activision’s new raise won’t apply to the Raven QA testers, who are still in the midst of unionizing.) Activision Blizzard rival Epic Games also plans on making its QA contractors into full-time employees.
According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, QA engineers/testers make a median salary of $84,056 per year. Over the past 12 months, organizations have posted some 129,161 open QA engineering/testing jobs, and the average position takes 41 days to fill—indicating a robust level of demand.
QA engineering/testing is also a growing profession; Burning Glass estimates it will grow 8.7 percent over the next 10 years. Skills that pop up most frequently in QA engineering/testing job postings include SQL, Java, software development, software testing, Selenium, and Atlassian JIRA.
Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in January, transforming it into one of the largest game producers in the world (with control of iconic game franchises such as “Call of Duty” and “Warcraft”). It’s inevitable that such a move will impact how game-centric software developers, designers, and other technologists work over the next several years. Microsoft has been very public about its plans to retool Activision Blizzard’s culture, which before the acquisition was under intense scrutiny due to allegations of an abusive culture and discriminatory hiring practices.
As with any tech conglomerate, any changes Microsoft makes to Activision Blizzard’s employees (whether contract status, compensation, or something else) will no doubt have a significant ripple effect through the surrounding industry. Today it’s QA testers’ employment status; tomorrow it could be something else.