Skip to main content

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

BioWare dumps veteran devs but says it's a “shift towards a more agile and more focused studio”

Image credit: EA

Dragon Age and Mass Effect’s storied developer BioWare have laid off around 50 employees, including veteran devs who had been with the company for 20 years, in what they call a “shift towards a more agile and more focused studio.” The reasoning behind the job cuts has a now-rote focus on efficiency that sadly echoes other redundancy announcements from this year - including ones from other widely admired studios like Firaxis and CD Projekt Red.

BioWare’s general manager Gary McKay announced the news via a blog post last night, saying that “as difficult as this is to say, rethinking our approach to development inevitably means reorganizing our team to match the studio’s changing needs.” It will, he said, “allow our developers to iterate quickly, unlock more creativity, and form a clear vision of what we’re building before development ramps up”.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure the process is handled with empathy, respect, and clear communication,” McKay continued. Affected employees are supposedly being provided with “professional resources” to help apply for open positions elsewhere in the studio and at parent company EA. It should be noted that these recent layoffs are separate from the batch in June, which happened as Star Wars: The Old Republic’s development shifted to a new team.

McKay’s note mentions that achieving a “more agile and focused studio” meant that “change [was] not only necessary, but unavoidable.” EA had previously announced they’d be “restructuring” some of their teams and laying off around 6% of their entire workforce back in March, so it's possible that the redundancies at BioWare are just part of that mandate. Either way, one wonders how much more agile a studio can get.

None of that makes these layoffs an easier pill to swallow. Some of the affected developers had been with the company for well over a decade, such as writer Mary Kirby who was "there since Dragon Age's inception," according to former lead writer and now Stray Gods director David Gaider. Another writer, Jay Watamaniuk, had been at the studio for 21 years, and worked on flagships like Mass Effect 3. It's not just writers affected, of course: this thread from foundation technical director Jon Renish is a bittersweet reflection on his time at BioWare. Renish was also working on Dragon Age.

BioWare’s next projects include Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, the series’ fourth entry, and the mysterious next Mass Effect, which is still in pre-production according to McKay. Seeing that kind of talent leave a studio responsible for absolute RPG gems is definitely a kick, and doesn't inspire confidence. Baldur’s Gate 3’s wild success has fans (and me) hungry for a proper BioWare comeback - just look at this mod that basically turns the game into a Dragon Age: Origins 2.0. It’s a shame to see talented developers caught up in corporate “restructurings”, but here’s hoping everyone affected lands on their feet.

Read this next