Dragon Age 4 devs sue Bioware due to awful severance

BioWare character Commander Shepard in portrait

BioWare character Commander Shepard in portrait

Game developers laid off from Dragon Age 4 developer BioWare are suing the studio over insufficient severance packages.

The Mass Effect and Dragon Age studio fired 50 employees back in August. While work continues on the next Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, numerous employees were axed from the project.

BioWare’s layoffs also resulted in the loss of its MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. As the studio focuses on its new single-player games, the MMO was moved to another studio to continue support.

BioWare claimed that the huge restructure would enable the company to “preserve the health of the studio”.

Following the layoffs, seven affecting employees have filed a lawsuit against BioWare for “unreasonably poor treatment by BioWare”. This includes allegedly firing employees without cause and offering “significantly less” than the previously agreed amount of severance pay.

The ex-employees that are filing the lawsuit have an average employment of 14 years at the Mass Effect studio. Despite being cut from the company’s upcoming projects, the laid off employees remain “supportive” of the titles they worked on.

However, the affecting employees claim that BioWare is “shortchanging” fired workers with unsatisfactory severance. Furthermore, ongoing NDAs for Dragon Age: Dreadwolf mean that employees are unable to share their work with studios to find new jobs.

“BioWare attempted to reduce its obligation to these employees well below what the courts typically award, including by eliminating benefits from its termination pay – that appears to be contrary to the Employment Standards Code,” lawyer R. Alex Kennedy explained.

BioWare is far from the only studio to be hit with substantial layoffs this year. Just last week, Unreal Engine and Fortnite creator Epic Games laid off almost 900 employees despite having one of the most popular live service titles and game engines in the games industry.

Other high profile game companies are also starting layoffs such as Naughty Dog. The Uncharted and Last of Us developer has fired dozens of contract workers despite being PlayStation’s biggest studio with multiple projects in the works.

It’s a tumultuous time in both the tech and gaming industries at the time of writing. Following a year of mass layoffs in the tech sector, game developers are now suffering from firings as studios fail to hit obscene profit margins.

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