BioWare has been in the news for all the wrong reasons as of late, and that narrative continues as seven out of the fifty recently laid-off BioWare employees are suing the Edmonton-based studio for lack of full severance following their termination, with the developer refusing any increase.
The group’s attorney, Alex Kennedy, has revealed that BioWare is only offered two weeks of severance per year of employment at the studio instead of the usual one month in other terminations. In addition, Bioware is also refusing to include their health benefits as part of the severance.
Seeing how BioWare general manager Gary McKay wrote that the layoff these now former employees were part of was treated with “empathy, respect, and clear communication,” now comes off more as a lie to save face than anything else with the lack of respect being given former employees.
Laid-off employees at BioWare were apparently informed that offering better compensation could potentially impact the funding for Dragon Age: Dreadwolf.
BioWare comes off worse in this as the laid-off employees were given the impression the severance they are requesting could impact the financials of the studio and Dragon Age: Dreadwolf in a very blackmail way. It honestly sounds gross reading, and it sounds like BioWare is using current employees as hostages to get out of paying veteran developers their full severance.
To add to that, the QA team at Keyword Studios that previously worked on Dragon Age: Dreadwolf has been let go following BioWare’s refusal to continue its contract with the Dublin-based company in August. Back in June 2022, the Canadian-based testers made the news after successfully creating the first video game union in Canada with 16 eligible votes to zero under the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Union, Local No. 401. Now, after more than a year, that team as we know it has seemingly been dissolved.
“We can confirm that, regrettably, the 13 Edmonton-based staff have now left the business following the end of a fixed term client contract,” Corless wrote in an email,” Keywords Studios’ global head of marketing, Liz Corless said in an email to Polygon.
The reason behind the move is that Keywords Studios believes “there is no more work available,” according to former Keywords QA tester James Russwurm. He adds that Keywords Studios offered a “minimal severance,” and the union decided to file an employment standards complaint against the company; similar to the former BioWare employees, the gaming union is looking to negotiate for a better severance.