I'm kind of torn on the whole QA union thing. On the one hand, many Unions are awful, causing work stoppages over really petty demands at times, which is something that the already delay ridden gaming industry can't really afford, especially on the AAA level where games already cost way too much to develop, which has drastically lowered the number of risky new AAA IP, in favor of safe formulaic games and sequels, and GaaS gams that can be monetized long term. Unions causing work stoppages and winning their members higher pay will only further increase those AAA budgets and exacerbate those issues, bringing us even less risky AAA new IP in favor of more GaaS, more microtransactions, and more safe, formulaic sequels.
On the other hand, much of the video game QA field is grossly underpaid, most gaming studios are located in urban areas with very high cost of living, places where entry level, studio apartment rent alone can cost $1200 a month or more, with other expenses like gas/transportation, food, and more also costing more, and many of the places where those game studios are located, such as California, are also very heavily taxed. Some of these QA workers are only making like $25,000 to $35,000 a year before taxes, doing full time work, and their benefits packages suck as well or are non-existent compared to other game development positions which require a college degree unlike QA. I just now did a search on Indeed and saw video game QA listings with pay as low as $14.50 an hour, you can just about make that kind of money working at a fast food place or grocery store or gas station these days in a low cost of living town or city, thanks to post-Covid pay increases in many small towns and cities. I live in a small city of 22,000 in a below US average cost of living county, and I have seen fast food places here offering as much as $13 an hour starting pay.
There is also considerably less room for advancement than other game design fields, many gaming companies require a bachelor's degree for their Senior and Lead QA positions, meaning that a High School diploma/GED only Entry Level QA tester often can't get promoted at certain game studios.
I'm not saying that High School Diploma/GED QA workers deserve to be paid as much as bachelor's degree requiring positions in the rest of the gaming industry, but they at least deserve a living wage for the area where the game studio is located, a halfway decent benefits package (which at least includes health insurance and some paid vacation time), and some room for future advancement to Senior QA positions. Maybe QA workers unionizing can fix these issues, but I'm not sure if Unions can fix the issue, or if they will just take big Union fees while winning their workers very little and causing work stoppages that cause further delays in an already delay ridden industry.
Last edited by shikamaru317 - on 27 May 2022