BioWare lays off around 50 employees as work on Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Dreadwolf continues

BioWare lays off around 50 employees as work on Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Dreadwolf continues

BioWare, renowned for its work on franchises like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, has laid off approximately 50 employees as the studio continues to develop upcoming titles such as “Mass Effect” and “Dragon Age: Dreadwolf.” This move is framed as part of a transition toward a more agile and focused studio approach. The layoffs come in the wake of similar actions by other acclaimed studios, such as Firaxis and CD Projekt Red.

Gary McKay, BioWare’s general manager, conveyed the news through a blog post, explaining that the studio’s evolving development strategy necessitated a reorganization of the team to align with changing requirements. This adjustment, according to McKay, aims to enable developers to iterate more swiftly, enhance creativity, and establish a clear project vision before full-scale development.

In an effort to handle the process with empathy and respect, the affected employees are reportedly being offered professional resources to aid them in seeking open positions within the studio or its parent company, EA. These layoffs are distinct from those that occurred in June when development responsibilities shifted for “Star Wars: The Old Republic.”

McKay’s statement acknowledges the imperative of achieving a more agile and focused studio and suggests that change was both necessary and inevitable. EA had previously announced broader restructuring efforts and layoffs amounting to about 6% of its total workforce earlier in the year, indicating that the BioWare layoffs could be part of this broader initiative. Nevertheless, questions arise about how much more agility a studio can attain through such measures.

The layoffs are especially poignant considering the tenure of some affected developers, with some having been part of BioWare for more than a decade. Notably, the departure of writers like Mary Kirby, who had been with the company since the inception of “Dragon Age,” and Jay Watamaniuk, a 21-year veteran who contributed to flagship titles like “Mass Effect 3,” is keenly felt. The impact isn’t limited to writers; foundation technical director Jon Renish shared a reflective thread on his time at BioWare, where he had also been working on “Dragon Age.”

BioWare’s ongoing projects include “Dragon Age: Dreadwolf,” the fourth installment in the series, and the next “Mass Effect,” still in pre-production according to McKay. The departure of such skilled talent from a studio renowned for its RPG accomplishments raises concerns among fans who eagerly await BioWare’s comeback. The recent success of “Baldur’s Gate 3” has intensified hopes for a BioWare resurgence. While corporate restructurings are disappointing for the industry, the affected developers are wished well in their future endeavors.

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