Microsoft’s Recognition of Unions Is a Huge Moment for Gaming
The publisher is again setting the standard for the industry.
Xbox owner Microsoft on Thursday announced new practices to the public for how it manages its relationship with its workers. In its statement it affirmed: The company will recognize unions. It’s a monumental statement for one of the world’s most successful gaming companies.
Gaming companies and their workers share an extremely unhealthy relationship, partly inherited from the tech industry. It’s amplified, though, because many studio employees are enthusiastic about games and grateful for the opportunity to work in an industry they’re passionate about. That leads to exploitative practices of crunch—long hours to make release deadlines set by non-developer executives. It’s an ugly industry standard.
Few game studios have unionized, out of fear of backlash from their corporate overlords. But by affirming their willingness to recognize unions, the third-most valuable company in the world is setting a standard that the rest of the industry should follow.
“Recent unionization campaigns across the country—including in the tech sector—have led us to conclude that inevitably these issues will touch on more businesses, potentially including our own,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a blog post on Thursday.