Swedish publisher Paradox Interactive, parent company of Paradox Development Studio, has announced that it is about to complete a collective bargaining agreement between itself and two labor unions. The agreement will introduce "a formalized means of influencing [employee's] pay, benefits, responsibilities, and more" across all Paradox locations within Sweden.
Fueled in large part by the long-tail success of 2012's Crusader Kings 2, Paradox has grown from a team of a few dozen to a multi-faceted organization of about 500 employees over the past decade. In Paradox's announcement of the new bargaining agreement, negotiated with Swedish trade unions Unionen and SACO, the company's Chief Human Resources Officer Marina Hedman frames the move as one of necessity for a company like Paradox. "An organization of our size has different needs," Hedman says, "and we must ensure that our employees continue to feel valued and empowered to shape our company, even as our structure shifts towards larger teams and projects. We're proud, both as a Swedish company and as a member of the games industry, to add our name to the roster of companies who support unionization."
Paradox Development Studio programmer and union representative Magne Skjæran celebrated the announcement on Twitter. "We've been working towards this for a long time now, and it is so great to see it come to pass," says Skjæran. "I hope this will inspire organizing at other companies."
This development comes during what's shaping up to be a significant year for Paradox. Building on recent successes with in-house strategy titles like Stellaris and published hits like Cities: Skylines, Paradox is aiming to launch three titles in 2020: Romero Games' mob strategy title Empire of Sin, the highly anticipated Crusader Kings 3, and Hardsuit Labs' Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2.
Parts of Paradox will remain outside of the scope of this bargaining agreement. The company's recent growth has entailed expansion outside of Sweden, including the founding of Paradox Tectonic in Berkley, California last year. Especially in the United States, unionization efforts within game development are relatively new and in the process of amassing support.
On top of organizations like Game Workers Unite, the video game industry also sees calls for worker protections and unions from adjacent fields with established unions. This has taken the form of actors union contracts signed for voiceover work and even a refusal from the Writers Guild to award video game writing until more game writers are represented by the union.
Still, with crunch and other labor issues endemic in the industry, there are signs that more workers see unionization as a way to combat them. The 2020 Games Developer Conference survey, released ahead of the now-postponed event in January, showed growing support for unionization with over half of respondents saying the games industry should unionize. At the same time, only 23% of respondents said they think games industry workers will end up unionized.