BioWare has announced a team restructuring, which includes job cuts. Although the studio ensures that this move won’t affect the development of Dragon Age and Mass Effect, some of its most experienced devs have been laid off.
Dragon Age: Origins
- On August 23, BioWare general manager Gary McKay shared an “update on the state of BioWare.” He noted that the development team needs to be reorganized to “match the studio’s changing needs.”
- As a result, BioWare decided to lay off around 50 employees. “That is deeply painful and humbling to write,” McKay said, adding that the process will be “handled with empathy, respect, and clear communication.”
- Some of the people affected by the job cuts will be transitioned to similar positions within Electronic Arts. But others will have to look for new places outside the company.
- On top of that, Electronic Arts also cut ties with Keywords Studios, an outsourcing company that previously provided QA services for BioWare.
- As an EA spokesperson told GamesBeat, the parties were unable to come to a new agreement, and the current one expires on September 27. It is worth noting that earlier this year, a group of QA contractors at Keywords, who were working on testing Dragon Age Dreadwolf, voted unanimously to form a union.
Why is BioWare reorganizing its team?
- According to McKay, the restructuring will help BioWare fulfill its main goal — creating “exceptional story-driven single-player experiences filled with vast worlds and rich characters.”
- The goal is to make the company more focused and agile, allowing devs to iterate quickly and form a clear vision for its upcoming projects.
- This should benefit the development of Dragon Age Dreadwolf and the upcoming Mass Effect game, which is currently in pre-production by Mike Gamble-led team.
- McKay noted that BioWare remains committed to quality, and these changes were needed to “build a brighter future” for the studio.
Who was affected by the layoffs?
Shortly after the official announcement, BioWare technical director Jon Renish wrote that he was also affected by the job cuts.
Renish joined BioWare in 2015, where he worked in various roles, including a lead systems programmer for Anthem and building the technical foundation for the next Dragon Age. Earlier in his career, he also worked as a gameplay programmer at High Voltage Software, Day 1 Studios, and Ubisoft.
There were bumps, bruises, highs & lows, but honestly what an amazing ride it has been. I look forward to Dreadwolf’s release and whatever is next for me and everyone impacted by today’s layoffs.
— Jon Renish (@JonRenish) August 24, 2023
May Kirby, another experienced BioWare employee, was also laid off. She asked if anyone’s looking for a writer or a narrative designer with kind of an “absurd amount of experience.”
Kirby worked at BioWare for 17 years, serving as a writer on Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
According to the studio’s former lead writer David Gaider, Kirby was involved in the Dragon Age series since its inception and, for example, created Varric. She also worked on characters like Loghain, Vivienne, Merril, and Sten.
BioWare laid off Varric’s creator, Mistress of the Qunari, Writer of the Chant, who was there since Dragon Age’s inception. How incredibly sad.
I’ll echo others saying that any studio in need of narrative expertise should snap her up immediately. Mary is amazing, full stop. https://t.co/nUa86nHKyG
— David Gaider (@davidgaider) August 23, 2023
“Absolutely gutted at the news of even more layoffs from BioWare,” Gaider wrote. “Not just headcount reduction, but laying off some of their most senior (and likely most expensive) staff, people who deserve more loyalty than this.”
Update: David Gaider later noted that BioWare also laid off writer Lukas Kristjanson, who has been with the studio for over 25 years. “We used to call him Old Man Luke and Writer Alpha — there since [Baldur’s Gate 1], the writer behind Minsc and Joker and so many more,” Gaider wrote. “One of Bio’s longest-serving employees.”