Boycott Warzone's Caldera Map?

Raven Software's behavior towards its staff, and the insanity of recent layoff mere days before the launch of their biggest product launch ever, exemplify a development studio in need of change.

warzone unemployed boycott
Raven Software laid off staff mere days before Caldera released. | © Activision

The sobering reality of Warzone's new Pacific Map, Caldera, is that over a dozen Quality Assurance (QA) Testers were laid off mere days before it launched. Yet again, gamers being made the QA Testers of Activision's games, and as a result, dozens of people are unemployed. The ensuing walkout has continued for a number of days, with the remaining members of Raven Software's QA Team refusing to work until the contractors that lost their jobs are reinstated. This might seem like a cut-and-dry issue, and in a way it is. What's not so cut-and-dry, though, is what our reaction should be, as consumers of Raven Software's latest product.

Now, yes, the title of this article is a little provocative, but hear out what I have to say: I am not saying that we need an eternal boycott on everything Warzone, nor a boycott on everything Call of Duty. The reality is that if we hold out of these games for too long, they won't make the money they need to make to keep the remaining employees employed. We can be assured that those executives are still going to get their bonuses, and the average developer will be let go (probably in-order of "importance") to guarantee that eventuality. I want to remind you as well that developers hardly earn millions from the brilliant jobs they do. Sure, they're not earning peanuts, but they work very hard for salaries that perhaps not as competitive as you would otherwise think.

QA Testers are an especially abused subsection of the development community as well. In the final steps of development, QA Testers work around the clock to find potential problems with the game, which then need to be addressed by other sections of the development team. They are crucial for the release of quality video games, something that is all too often lacking in recent months and years. Mistreatment of QA Testing, and a lack of resources given to these teams results in catastrophes like Cyberpunk 2077 and, need I not even mention, Battlefield 2042.

This is a crucial group of people in the development space, and absolutely worthy of our respect. That is what makes the firing of these employees at Raven Software so despicable. They had performed their functions with Caldera (assumedly), and now that those rabid Call of Duty fans were about to jump in, QA Testing was likely considered obsolete. I mean, who needs professional Quality Insurance when you have millions of clueless dudebros jumping into your game to spend insane quantities of money on idiotic skins that they won't even see... because, you know, it's a first-person game.

To be honest, no one puts it better than the good ol' Jimquisition...

This is where we're going to dive into the real point of this-here article. The boycott of Raven Software's latest "product" (I put "product" in quotations because you can hardly call a new map a ground-breaking or exciting "product"). Should we boycott? Should we avoid playing the latest Warzone map? Wouldn't that be counterproductive, after all, won't they just go ahead and layoff more people? What should we do, and what is our responsibility here? Well, it is a little tricky, so I'm going to try to at least help a little bit.

We are responsible for our purchasing decisions. Well, we are for the most part. Where we can we should make more ethical decisions about what we consume, how we consume, and when we consume. It is crucial for the continuation of the games industry that we do consume, but if we want to actively shape the industry, and influence its betterment, then consumption is absolutely the key. Let's be real: it's a little hard to avoid every product that has Cassiterite in it. If you don't know what that is, it's a tin oxide that's used in an absolutely insane number of products. It is a conflict mineral, often mined by slaves in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now, that's horrible, but how can you realistically avoid using that material? Same with basically every computer product actually, because they consist of certain materials that come from these kinds of abuses.

If you say to me, though, that you can't avoid play Caldera, despite the abuse of Activision staff that was revealed in the huge sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit that has made headlines all year, despite these layoffs, then you are simply lying. There is literally no excuse in this case to not do something about this, literally none. I am not suggesting that you never, ever play Warzone again. But wait. Wait until the walkouts work, what until those QA Testers get their jobs back. That's the least you can do, and it's not hard. There are plenty of other, frankly better, games out there anyway.

So, what will you do? Will you sit by and let Activision continue to dismantle the soul of this industry? Will you sit by and watch as hard-working people, those same people who made the game you so desperately want to play, are mistreated? Or will you hold off, just for a little while, to apply a little bit more pressure to the people who hold the strings of power? It's your choice. I know what I'll be choosing.


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