- Avalanche Studios Group, the Swedish company behind the Just Cause series, has joined other game companies in unionizing, with over 100 developers signing up to improve their bargaining power.
- Reports state that negotiations between the union and Avalanche are touching upon issues including a four-day workweek, and positive progress appears to have been made so far.
- While unionizing can benefit workers, it is not a guarantee of job security, as seen in the case of unionized QA workers from Dragon Age: Dreadwolf who were recently laid off.
Many members of the Avalanche Studios Group, known for creating the Just Cause series, have just unionized, marking a significant point in the company’s history. This makes Avalanche one of the latest companies in the game industry to unionize, following other recent cases such as the unionization of Sega of America, Blizzard Albany, Raven Software, and others.
Avalanche Studios is a Swedish company that was founded in 2003. The studio became famous for franchises like Just Cause and theHunter, as well as other AAA games like Rage 2. At the moment, Avalanche is reportedly developing a yet-unnamed medieval action game, another installment in the Just Cause series, and Contraband, a co-op open world title.
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Now, over 100 developers of Avalanche Studios joined Unionen, a Swedish trade union, as a way to improve their bargaining power with the studio. This number represents roughly 20% of the company’s total workers, which has around 500 employees in total. According to IGN, negotiations between the unions and Avalanche began last week, and are still ongoing at the time of this report. These negotiations also include members of another trade union called Sveriges Ingenjorer, which has a few members in Avalanche. IGN hinted that some of the issues that will be discussed include a four-day workweek. The media outlet also reported that “progress has been positive” so far during the negotiations. This marks such a significant event because it’s the first time in its 20 years of existence that there’s an official bargaining table at Avalanche Studios.
When discussing the unionization of the makers of the Just Cause franchise, it’s relevant to understand that union membership numbers are considerably higher in Sweden than in the United States. Unionen affirms that around 70% of Swedish workers are currently participating in one of these organizations, against only 11.3% in the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unlike in America, workers can decide to join a union at any moment without a union election, and the country also has a stronger history of collective bargaining when compared to the US, which may explain the difference in numbers.
While unionizing may help the workers at Avalanche Studios, it’s not exactly a guarantee. Just this week, unionized QA workers from Dragon Age: Dreadwolf were laid off, for example. All 13 Edmonton-based quality assurance employees of Keywords Studios were fired in this case. However, the firings are allegedly not related to unionization, but to BioWare not extending the contract of the third-party company that hired these people.
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