A group of quality assurance testers at Call of Duty developer Raven Software have voted to create one of the first video game unions in the United States, and the first at a major studio in the country.
22 staffers at Raven Software voted, and the motion passed 19-3. The group, known as Game Workers Alliance, can now move ahead with contract negotiations with management at Activision Blizzard. It’s not immediately clear what specific terms the group is seeking.
The Game Workers Alliance said in a statement to The Verge, “Our biggest hope is that our union serves as inspiration for the growing movement of workers organizing at video game studios to create better games and build workplaces that reflect our values and empower all of us. We look forward to working with management to positively shape our working conditions and the future of Activision Blizzard through a strong union contract.”
In December 2021, QA workers at Raven went on strike. Some QA testers were later shifted to “embedded” jobs within other departments at Raven. Labor expert Tom Smith told Polygon that this was “nothing more than a tactic” to try to stop Raven QA staff from organizing.
A spokesperson for Activision Blizzard told GameSpot, “We respect and believe in the right of all employees to decide whether or not to support or vote for a union. We believe that an important decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of roughly 350 people should not be made by 19 Raven employees.”
In December 2021, workers at the small North American studio Vodeo Games formed a union. Contract staff workers at BioWare are now also setting the stage to form a union. A worker at Nintendo of America is taking action against the company and has filed a claim with the National Labor Relations Board that accuses the Mario maker of firing them for trying to start a union.
Looking more widely across the labor market, workers at Starbucks and Amazon are also in the process of seeking to form workers’ unions right now.
Jessica Gonzalez, a former QA staffer at Activision Blizzard who founded the activist group ABetterABK, told The New York Times that the vote from Raven QA staff to unionize would be “the spark that ignites the rest of the industry, I believe” as it relates to collective bargaining.
US Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin celebrated the news, offering congratulations to the workers at Raven, which is based in Madison, Wisconsin.
In this latest edition of Designer’s Notes, we’ll go into more detail about the balancing changes that’ll come with Operation Vector Glare’s Season Test Server and give you an insight into the reasons behind these changes.
Before we dive into the balancing changes you can expect from Operation Vector Glare’s Season Test Server, we wanted to address a topic we know is important to you. In the current state of Siege’s balance, there are a few components that we agree are tuned a little high, specifically LMGs and Finka. We’ve been investigating how to bring them more in line with other Operators and weapon types and have begun putting this into action. In order to make sure these changes don’t cause a ripple effect to the overall balance ecosystem, though, this has taken some additional time. We can comfortably announce that adjustments will be coming to both LMGs and Finka in Y7S3. We know you were likely hoping for adjustments this season, so we ask for a little more patience as we work to do this right by you. We appreciate your passion for these changes and look forward to getting them in front of you next season!
SCREEN SHAKE INTENSITY
Players can now turn off or reduce the intensity of screen shake feedback during gameplay from the Accessibility section of the Options menu.
Population targeted by this change: All. Back in Y6S3[rainbow6.com], we deployed a change which reduced the intensity of screen shakes from explosions, removing it altogether in the case of certain gadgets. At the same time, we mentioned we were looking into options for players who encountered motion sickness as a result of these screen shakes. While we know screen shakes can be an important part of immersion for some players, we don’t want that to come at the expense of others’ comfort or ability to play the game. This is why we have added an option to the Accessibility menu to adjust the intensity of screen shakes or turn them off entirely. Now, players can choose the option that best fits their preferred experience with Siege. Default will offer the same screen shake intensity you’ve come to expect over the last couple seasons, while Medium will offer a further-reduced option that should help provide a more comfortable experience to those who are prone to motion sickness. Of course, there will also be the option to turn off screen shake altogether. We hope that by opening up these options, players will be able to better shape the comfort and immersion of their Siege experience.
CROUCH WALKING VOLUME
Increased the volume of footsteps while crouch walking.
Population targeted by this change: All. We know those early-round frags where an Operator manages to sneak behind your squad’s lines while crouch walking can be frustrating. Over the last couple months, we actively investigated the sound mix of crouch walking and found that the balance of sound to movement speed needed some tuning. Compared to alt walking, crouch walking offered an alternative that was both quiet and quick, so with Y7S2, we’ve tweaked the audio mix to increase the volume of these footsteps slightly. Given how how fast you can still move while crouch walking, we wanted to better align the sound of this movement with comparable forms of walking. Watch the below video to hear this change in action:
Added 3rd secondary weapon option.
Amaru – ITA12S
Clash – P-10C
Dokkaebi – C75-AUTO
Finka – GSH-18
Glaz – Bearing-9
Gridlock – SDP 9mm
Kali – P22 Mk5
Lion – P9
Tachanka – Bearing-9
Population targeted by this change: Casual. This season will see quite a few of our Operators expanding their loadouts to include a third secondary weapon option. In many cases, this will mark the return of secondary weapons that were previously replaced from Operators’ loadouts to make room for other gear like the Gonne-6. In particular, by adding submachine guns to some of our longer-range Operators (Dokkaebi, Glaz, Tachanka), we wanted to help give them a bit more confidence in short-range skirmishes. Being committed to range is all well and good, but having the option of add some variety to their kit should help to open up new strategic angles in the long run. Similarly, we wanted to ensure Clash and Kali had more options available to them to accommodate players who are not particularly comfortable with SMGs (or shotguns as well, in Clash’s case). The addition of a semi-auto pistol should help round out their kits.
Changed to 1-Armor, 3-Speed (from 2-Armor, 2-Speed).
Population targeted by this change: Casual. Adding on his new weapon slot, Glaz is also getting a new set of stats this season. To go along with the addition of a submachine gun, we’ve increased his mobility. While he will always be a niche entry pick thanks to a focus around his unique DMR, we wanted to give casual players more options to experiment with closer-range play as they adapt to his range and sightlines.
Try out the latest Siege updates on the Test Server and don’t hesitate to report any bugs or issues you encounter on the new and improved R6Fix[r6fix.ubi.com].
Rainbow Six Siege is proud to present the second season of Year 7, Operation Vector Glare! The latest Operator to join team Rainbow is Sens, a brilliant tactician from Belgium with extensive experience in the military, training in mechanics and psychology. Adept at using technology and misdirection to their advantage, they will use their R.O.U. Projector System to redefine battlefield cover and move tactics to a whole other level. Read the Patch Notes below for full details.
Below you will find the download sizes for each platform.
Ubisoft Connect: 480 MB
Steam: 394 MB
Xbox One: 660.60 MB
Xbox Series X: 655.26 MB
PS4: 551 MB
PS5: 480 MB
FIXED – Blackbeard mounted shield can block Stun Grenades. FIXED – Defenders gadgets become indestructible after being downed or killed while holding the gadget. FIXED – Gadgets are indestructible after getting pushed while holding the gadget in hands.
FIXED – Amaru can’t use Garra Hook to get to the top of the left tower of Emerald Plains
FIXED – Operator Portrait is not equipped after purchasing a bundle and pressing the "Equip All" button. FIXED – Crosshair will become a white dot in multiple conditions for Montagne. FIXED – Camera issues during match replay on Emerald Plains.
Coming hot off the recent release of Emerald Plains, our dev team were excited to answer your burning questions about Maps and Operators – past, present, and future. Over the course of the AMA, they answered a variety of topics, including night maps, the design process of Emerald Plains, and their approach to keeping Siege fresh each season. You can review the full AMA here!
We’re planning more focused AMAs like this in the future to cover a range of different topics, so keep an eye out for future Q&As!
Q: What are your plans to combat players banning future new maps/reworks instead of giving them an honest chance?
A: Good question! We have plans to change up the existing map ban system later this year and will be sharing more soon but suffice to say, this new system should lead to a wider range of maps seeing more active play in Ranked! – Alexander
Q: Curious about Emerald Plains design and what other maps it incorporates from. With the map design process, do you look at other maps and try to incorporate similar structure? Or is it from the ground up?
A: The comparisons to Bartlett make sense – Emerald Plains DID begin its life as a Bartlett rework. As we proceeded to change more and more of the map during the reworking phase, we quickly found that it was becoming its own map and didn’t fit our definition of a rework, so we decided to shift gears and lean into the newness, theme and all. While there are hints and nods to its old self like the foyer and two front towers, its moment-to-moment gameplay flow is entirely different from its humble beginnings as a Bartlett rework. – Frédéric and Yann
Q: Is there a possibility to see night maps return to the game, possibly in Casual mode?
A: Whenever we choose to make a night map, we need to ensure that it’s well-lit to ensure the most balanced and competitive environment possible. It doesn’t matter whether a future map is night or day, but the lighting of the map needs to offer fair play. We don’t have plans to turn past maps into night maps, but we aren’t closing the door to future maps! – Alexander
Q: What kind of challenges does bringing in new maps for TDM present to the Level Design team? With the introduction of TDM, is this the start of a more reinforced casual side to Siege?
A: The main challenge is that this is largely new to us in the scope of Siege. We’re used to thinking about attack and defense aspects of our maps, but for TDM, we need to make sure no one area is too defensible – you should be able to easily navigate, and orient yourself, and easily identify opponents at a glance. Let’s just say that after making this, we have a lot of ideas we didn’t get a chance to use, so we have those stored away.
As for the question about Siege’s casual side, when we have a community that’s as large and diverse as the Siege community, we absolutely want to reinforce our casual playlists just as much as we reinforce the competitive side, so this is something that’s always important to us to consider. – Yann and Alexander
Q: How arduous is the process of finding and fixing exploits, unfair angles, and other cheesy things when creating a new map?
A: We wish we played viciously enough to catch everything on the first pass! Our QC team is incredibly instrumental in helping us find these issues given the amount of time they put into these maps ahead of release. At the end of the day, though, the community also plays a huge role in this process, as millions of players tend to help catch things that a singular Map team may not always catch. We appreciate your ability to stretch the game’s boundaries to their max, which helps to catch these exploits. It makes for an interesting process of searching, resolving, getting feedback, and continuing to iterate. – Frédéric and Yann
Q: How do you tackle map reworks on maps that are popular?
A: Oregon is a great example of this. Before every rework, we look at pick rate and win rate of objectives and seek to try and equalize them. This one in particular was becoming stale prior to the rework and certain objectives were played the same way every time, so we tried to analyze which aspects of the map were strongest and most fun. This is where a workshop with pros came in. We often work with them to identify how to make the game flow more versatile and offer up more ways that plays can approach a map instead of falling into a routine they use every time. – Yann
Q: Emerald Plains only has a single point of entry on the roof of the map. What was the thought process behind this?
A: Putting entry points on the roof tends to be a tricky balancing act, as there are often very few ways for Defenders to counteract this – specifically when there are hatches on the roof. Regarding the skylight, it was originally far more powerful in an earlier version, but we found with testing that even if you were more vulnerable while rappelling all the way down, it was way too much of an advantage for Attackers and had to be tweaked. – Yann
Q: Will we ever have a unique combination of armor and speed in the future? (ie. 3 armor 2 speed)
A: Good question! This is something we’ve experimented with, but are still looking at how we can "break" this system with it still being fun and balanced. We’ve also been toying with a 4-speed Operator, but the world’s not ready yet (and maybe we’ll never be ready for it). – Dominic
Q: One of the complaints from more old-school or traditional players is that the game has lost its more realistic tone and design, especially so in the gadgets. Do you plan on continuing this trend of futuristic and sleek looking gadgets? Or do you plan on mixing in more grounded looking gadgets as well as more futuristic looking ones?
A: Since Siege’s inception, it’s been important to us to ground the concepts behind our gadgets in existing real-life technology with the caveat that fun and balanced gameplay comes first. Sometimes, it’s necessary to stretch the bounds of reality and the real life tech we use as inspiration to fit the gameplay. Just look at Thatcher and Pulse: a grenade-sized EMP capable of disabling most electronic gadgets and a handheld heartbeat sensor of this strength take tech people are familiar with and stretch their reality to make them fun in a game concept.
With your example of Thorn, this is quite close to how we handled Thatcher. The look of gadgets may touch on an Op’s lore, but 1:1 translations from real life often don’t have the same fun factor, so this is where the ingenuity of our designers comes in.
Looking to the future, we will strive to strike a balance between real life tech inspiration and near-future innovation, all while prioritizing fun-factor. We still apply the same care and thoughtfulness to our gadgetry that we did with our Operators 7 years ago. – Alexander
Q: How did you collaborate with the game balance team when introducing Azami and her gadget to make sure it isn’t too OP, especially since her ability can modify the entire flow of a room?
A: From the prototyping phase, we sit down with Balancing once a week to explain our intentions and get an idea of any concerns they may have. This way, we can look at how best to strike that balance and offer as many possible ways to tweak an Operator in the future. We also take time to consider how they can affect (and be affected) by older legacy maps, which sometimes leads into considering reworks for the future. In that way, making an Operator isn’t JUST about talking with Operator designers – it touches so many other teams. – Dominic and Frédéric
Q: How do you decide who gets what scope magnification? Is there a reason some guns have a 1x and a 2x, but not a 1.5x?
A: This really comes down to balancing the distance that an Op is viable at. Due to the nature of their gadgets and gameplay, this helps to determine where Ops play, so choosing their scope magnifications is an extension of helping to define where and what range they play from. This is also why different Ops might have different scopes available, tying directly into their unique styles of play. Also, we ARE investigating adding 1.5x scopes, so that’s something we’re looking at for the future. – Dominic
Q: Why the shift towards not releasing new weapons and instead reusing weapons?
A: We have a massive roster of weapons and while there’s always a chance of introducing new ones in the future, we also want to ensure we use the over 100 guns already in the game to build interesting loadouts that expand on weapons that are fan-favorites or that haven’t had the chance to shine. We’d still love to give renewed life to weapons that have been in there from day 1. – Dominic
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