Video game testers form Microsoft’s first union

A group of video game testers working for Microsoft’s ZeniMax has voted to form the tech giant’s first union, the Communication Workers of America union announced Tuesday.

The CWA, which represents the union, said Microsoft would recognize the union in compliance a promise Microsoft made to the CWA in June to recognize unions trained by employees. Microsoft bought ZeniMax, the parent company of game developer Bethesda, which develops the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series, in 2021 for $7.5 billion.

Efforts to organize video game workers come as the Federal Trade Commission tries to block Microsoft from buying Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, arguing that the merger will hurt competition among game console makers.

Chairman Chris Shelton said that by agreeing to recognize the union, Microsoft is distancing itself from other technology companies that have actively fought workers’ efforts to organize.

“Microsoft is charting a different course that will strengthen the company’s culture and its ability to serve its customers and should serve as a model for the industry and a role model for regulators,” Shelton said in a statement.

Microsoft’s recognition of the union comes just over a week after dozens of video game employees at video game studio Proletariat, which was acquired by Activision Blizzard in 2022, requested union representation, the third union push Activision has seen in the past year. Raven Software workers organized in January and Blizzard Albany workers voted to unionize earlier in December.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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