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Ex-BioWare employees sue studio over "shortchanged" severance

The ex-BioWare workers claim their former employer has refused to properly compensate them for their tenure, with each of them having an average of 14 years at the developer.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

October 4, 2023

1 Min Read
Cover art for BioWare's Mass Effect: Legendary Edition.

Seven of the 50 employees laid off by BioWare are suing their former employer. The ex-staffers claim the Edmonton studio has refused to pay adequate severance to those affected by the late August reductions. 

According to the press release, Alberta Court law requires companies to give a month of severance pay per year of service when terminating an employee without cause. The employees have an average of 14 years at BioWare, whose severance was dubbed "significantly less" than the required amount. 

With the studio allegedly refusing to increase its amounts, the employees are taking the Mass Effect and Dragon Age developer to court for the "unreasonably poor treatment."

R. Alex Kennedy, providing counsel for the employees, wrote that BioWare "attempted to reduce its obligation to these employees well below what courts typically award. [...] Their termination without cause en masse like this calls for a response.

Citing the mass industry layoffs and NDAs preventing them from showing their work on Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, one plaintiff said the ex-employees were "struggling to understand why BioWare is shortchanging us in this challenging time." 

BioWare's recent (and complicated) history

At the initial time of those layoffs, BioWare general manager Gary McKay would reorient the studio towards its upcoming single-player projects, Dreadwolf and the fifth Mass Effect game. 

Weeks before that, BioWare Austin shifted control of its Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO over to Broadsword. With that transition now complete, the Austin studio is assisting with both single-player titles. 

Dragon Age: Dreadwolf has been teased and semi-announced on and off over the last several years. The last installment in the series was 2014's Dragon Age: Inquisition. 

Whenever Dreadwolf releases, it's expected to be BioWare's first full release after Anthem, which will turn five years old in February 2024.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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