Developers at CD Projekt Red—the Polish studio responsible for a trilogy of videogames about a worker who believes in negotiating a fair price for his labor and one game set in a dystopian future where corporate exploitation is the rule—have formed a union. The Polish Gamedev Workers Union (PGWU) is part of the national union OZZ Inicjatywa Pracownicza, and is open to developers who work for other studios in Poland.
“We started talking about unionizing after the 2023 wave of layoffs”, the PGWU website explains, referring to the firing of roughly 100 employees, or 9% of total staff announced back in July, which CEO Adam Kiciński described as being due to the “ongoing process of several deep transformations within the studio”.
“This event created a tremendous amount of stress and insecurity,” the PGWU goes on to say, “affecting our mental health and leading to the creation of this union in response. Having a union means having more security, transparency, better protection, and a stronger voice in times of crisis.”
It’s been a rough old year for people working in videogames. The website Game Industry Layoffs estimates that 6,100 people have been laid off so far in 2023. CD Projekt fired 29 staff at its Molasses Flood studio working on The Witcher spin-off codenamed Project Sirius, and announced that “about 30” of the staff working on Gwent would be laid off. In May, Unity laid off 600 people, as well as announcing plans to close half its offices, and in June, Embracer Group announced major layoffs and studio closures. News of layoffs at Telltale Games just broke days ago.
“We believe that the mass lay-offs are a danger to the gamedev industry and we believe that unionizing is a way for us to preserve the industry’s potential”, the PGWU says.