Activision Blizzard, the developers behind video games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, will demand workers return to the office at least part of the time, joining other tech companies in imposing mandates on in-person work.
Employees at Activision Publishing will be expected to return by April 10, while developers at Blizzard Entertainment will return by July 10. Workers at both divisions will be expected to work in person three days a week.
“Activision Blizzard has been returning teams to the office over the past year, and on February 13, we updated our future-of-work plans. In close partnership with each leadership team, we customized a plan based on what’s best for our business and our teams. We look forward to the increased real-time, in-person collaboration, and opportunities this change will foster,” the company said in a statement to Fortune.
Activision Blizzard, like other tech companies, is a forceful adopter of remote work that is now trying to impose a return to office mandate.
Several tech companies, like Apple and Google, announced their own return-to-office plans last year. Last November, Snap said it would ask employees to work in person at least 80% of the time, starting in February. Other companies, like Disney, Starbucks, and Walmart, are also trying to bring workers back to the office for part of the week.
Activision’s announcement came a day after a Twitter user identifying as a Blizzard Entertainment employee shared the return-to-office plans and warned they would cause “an exodus of talent” at the gaming company.
On Monday, Twitter user @LeastMyHairIsOk, who said they worked in Blizzard Entertainment’s customer service department, alleged that Activision Blizzard employees had “no interest in returning to office either full- or part-time,” because of cost-of-living and health concerns. “This isn’t to say that nobody sees the value in an office environment, but we’ve overall decided the risks do not [outweigh] those benefits.”
“Leadership isn’t prepared for what is likely to happen—an exodus of talent as we find work elsewhere,” they tweeted.
Fortune has attempted to contact @LeastMyHairIsOk for comment.
Leadership isn’t prepared for what is likely to happen – an exodus of talent as we find work elsewhere. Other jobs in the tech sector pay better and offer WFH, and it is clear our thoughts on the matter are irrelevant. What incentive do our employees have to remain at ABK? 9/14— Non Biners, Drive Ins, and Dives💙 (@LeastMyHairIsOk) February 14, 2023
Activision Blizzard is currently trying to persuade regulators to allow Microsoft to acquire the game publisher for $69 billion. Regulators are concerned that the deal would be anticompetitive, as Microsoft may deny popular games like Call of Duty to competitors like Sony’s PlayStation.
The game developer reported $2.3 billion in net revenue in the most recent quarter, a 7% increase year on year. The company declined to give a forecast, owing to the pending acquisition by Microsoft.
Yet the video game industry is preparing for a slump in demand. Gaming sales boomed as consumers stayed at home during the pandemic, but a return to office work and concerns about inflation are headwinds for video game publishers.
Work from home in the video game industry
Employees in the video game industry, who often work long hours with poor job security, embraced work from home during the pandemic. Around half of video game workers believed that companies would keep work-from-home options into the future, according to a 2021 survey from the International Game Developers Association.
Yet companies also blamed the rapid shift to remote work for disrupting game development, as employees struggled to get access to systems and resources from their homes, forcing game delays throughout the pandemic.
Research from Harvard Business Review in 2021 found that public game companies that shifted to remote work reported 4.4 times more delays than before the pandemic, while companies that did not shift to remote work reported fewer delays than before COVID-19.
Update, Feb. 16, 2023: This article has been updated with a comment from Activision Blizzard.
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