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Activision Now Demanding "Bug Quotas" From QA Testers In Texas And Minnesota

Activision is facing more unrest from its QA teams after implementing performance improvement plans for some employees that include a "bug quota"–a set quantity of bugs that the QA tester must find in order to meet their performance metrics. However, this has resulted in QA teams from Activision’s Minnesota and Texas offices sending a letter to management demanding the end of bug quotas and a meeting with QA employees to set standardized metrics that follow industry standards.

"From the recent mass rollout of [performance incentive plans] with mandatory bug quotas, and a lack of transparent communication between management and employees, there is a clear systemic problem that demands immediate change informed directly by the needs and input of QA employees," reads the letter (courtesy of A Better ABK). "These changes are in an effort to improve our work environment as well as communication, and, in turn, improve performance and productivity through the lens of quality assurance, not quantity assurance."

As noted by A Better ABK, bug quotas are not a standard in the games industry and are in fact unique to Activision. King, Blizzard, and other studios under the Activision Blizzard umbrella don't use bug quotas, and the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ITSQB) "explicitly discourages bug quotas as a metric in software testing."

The issue for QA testers is that they simply have no control over how many bugs might be present in any amount of code. An excellent QA tester might be handed a pristine game from an equally excellent developer and find absolutely no bugs, which would cause them to fail in their performance metrics. Meanwhile, a terrible QA tester might still manage to find multiple bugs from an equally terrible coder, resulting in that QA tester receiving a raise.

"The issue is not writing bugs, but requiring a set number of bugs to be written under the threat of disciplinary action which negatively impacts employee mental health and well-being," the letter adds.

QA employees from Activision's Minnesota and Texas offices issued a set of demands including the end of bug quotas, mandatory manager training on the concept of progressive discipline, and a commitment that performance incentive plans be used for employee growth and improvement rather than an excuse for termination. Additionally, QA employees are asking for an appeals process for performance incentive plans and to communicate with workers on a standardized set of metrics.

Demands for a more supportive work environment and clearer communication with management have also been made by Game Workers Alliance, the new unions formed from the QA teams at Raven Software and Blizzard Albany. It remains to be seen whether a unionization push is underway at these other two Activision offices.

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