BioWare announced on August 23 that it wouldn’t be showing off any updates for Dragon Age: Dreadwolf and the upcoming Mass Effect game at EA Play Live, much to the disappointment of fans waiting for a glimpse at the latest entries in the beloved RPG franchises. Alongside that came the announcement that the company will restructure itself in order to meet the needs of its upcoming titles, and fans quickly went from disappointed to concerned that this restructuring, which laid off 50 BioWare developers (including some who had been with the company since 2003’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic), would affect the development of both games.
Although BioWare general manager Gary McKay wrote that the layoffs won’t affect the development of the aforementioned titles and were necessary to create “exceptional story-driven single-player experiences” in a blog post, fans were more troubled than comforted by his words. A large part of that concern stems from the fact that Dragon Age: Dreadwolf’s development has already dealt with delays and high profile departures, while the upcoming Mass Effect is still only in early development. To make matters worse, these firings come following a wave of layoffs back in June 2022, when BioWare outsourced the development of its Star Wars MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic to Broadsword studio.
So, the August 23 news gave Mass Effect and Dragon Age fans quite a bit to worry about, which led them to voice their ongoing concerns on social media.
“I’ve been a pretty strong proponent of ‘let’s all stay calm, it’s alright, let’s not jump to doom’ for a lot of BioWare-related negative news over these past years. But this…Whatever it means, whatever it may or may not end up affecting with game development, at the end of the day this is deeply saddening,” Rather_curious_lass wrote in a reply to the news that Dragon Age writer Mary Kelly had been laid off on the r/dragonage subreddit. “On a personal level, it’s just really damn disheartening to see such talent and passion that helped make me and many others fall in love with the world, get fucking laid off.”
“Honestly, not sure what to make of it all. I was content to let them (BioWare) cook. But getting rid of senior staff with nothing said to suggest a release any time soon maybe it is an utter disaster,” Turinsday wrote in a separate r/dragonage thread. “Even if writing was done for Dreadwolf, you’d think someone of Kirby’s stature would be working on DLC or hopping over to Mass Effect, future DA concepts, etc. A Sad day.”
“Fifty people losing their jobs [and] no dates set for DA4, I hate to say it but I’m completely losing faith in BioWare and I feel like we’re never actually going to see this game or the next Mass Effect,” ShutUrBigBazoo wrote on Twitter. “You don’t let people go with big-name games in production.”
“That is not good news,” Indy_Power replied on Twitter. “You can spin it as restructuring, or meeting budget needs. We’ve seen layoffs within the gaming industry and how it has later led to studio closures. Nobody downsizes when they have two big projects.”
“Tell Gary McKay that Dragon Age and Mass Effect shouldn’t be named as such going forward if you are laying off the great individuals who helped put them together. You laid off the woman who wrote the damn Chant for crying out loud,” MrEverything__said on Twitter. “Wake up BioWare. This is disgraceful.”
Mass Effect and Dragon Age are both massive IPs with legions of dedicated fans—their sequels are almost guaranteed to earn BioWare tons of cash, so layoffs naturally raise eyebrows. Time will tell whether the “restructuring” will actually yield the results McKay claims it will or if it’ll be remembered as yet another string of unnecessary layoffs from a beloved video game studio. Neither sequel has a release date or window just yet.