Games Technology

Laid-Off Dragon Age Testers Will Picket BioWare


Former high quality assurance testers who labored on Dragon Age: Dreadwolf are making ready to picket exterior Bioware’s Edmonton places of work after being laid off earlier this yr. Digital Arts tried to dam the protest however the builders prevailed in a ruling by the Alberta Labour Relations Board in Canada.

BioWare laid off 50 staff in August, together with some longtime builders whose tenure goes again to the start of the Dragon Age collection. It additionally reduce its contract with Key phrases Studios, which was supplying high quality assurance testers on in-development sequel Dragon Age: Dreadwolf. Those self same testers had unionized only a yr earlier. Final month, they have been laid off from Key phrases as effectively, with the outsourcing firm blaming it on the lack of the BioWare contract.

Now, as first reported by Game Developer, these former Dragon Age testers say they’re planning to picket exterior BioWare’s workplace on November 7 round midday. They’re demanding that Key phrases reinstate them and persevering with bargaining their first contract, calling the layoffs earlier this yr a “union busting tactic.” However Key phrases doesn’t have any places of work in Alberta so they’ll BioWare as an alternative.

EA was apparently removed from completely satisfied concerning the determination. The writer tried to pressure the laid-off builders to take their protest elsewhere, noting that, as totally distant employees, they by no means technically labored inside BioWare’s Edmonton workplace. As an alternative, EA tried to persuade the Alberta Labour Relations Board to make them picket exterior their properties. The regulators have been unmoved, in the end siding with the employees.

“We view this Labor Board ruling as an enormous win for not simply us, however distant employees in every single place in Canada,” former Key phrases tester James Russwurm instructed Sport Developer. “Staff can now go ‘oh, I can picket my employer’s places of work downtown although I didn’t work within the workplace.’”

The ex-testers had been contracted to work at BioWare starting through the pandemic, first on Mass Impact Legendary Version and afterward Dragon Age: Dreadwolf. When BioWare moved to pressure employees again into the workplace, the group efficiently unionized to attempt to maintain their distant standing and enhance pay. The Key phrases builders have been laid off earlier than they may end bargaining their first contract.

EA known as the protest “misguided” in an announcement to Kotaku. “We hope that Key phrases and the union are in a position to resolve their variations however in the end Bioware has no position in that course of,” a spokesperson wrote. “It’s our view that any actions focusing on our places of work are misguided as Bioware is just not concerned in any method within the negotiations and Epcor Tower has by no means been a spot of employment for Key phrases staff.”

EA mentioned on the time that it had previoulsy renewed its contract with Key phrases and never doing so in September had nothing to do with the group unionizing. However the writer has by no means made clear why it reduce employees on a extremely anticipated recreation like Dreadwolf that’s nonetheless deep in growth following a number of reported inner delays.

The once-beloved RPG studio and its dad or mum firm are additionally at present coping with a lawsuit by different laid off Dragon Age builders who say they’re being denied their full severance advantages below Canadian labor legislation. “Whereas we stay supportive of the sport we labored so onerous on, and of our colleagues persevering with that work, we’re struggling to grasp why BioWare is shortchanging us on this difficult time,” one in every of them mentioned in a press launch final month.

Replace 11/6/2023 5:31 p.m. ET: Added an announcement from EA.