BioWare’s ‘top priority’ is trying to solve studio problems

GM wants to create “a work environment among the best in the world”

Following a series of allegations about mismanagement at BioWare and the significant impact it’s had on the health of its workforce, studio general manager Casey Hudson has admitted “these problems are real and it’s our top priority to continue working to solve them”.

Earlier this week, Kotaku published an investigation claiming that structural and cultural failings at the studio had led to significant periods of crunch that seriously affected the health of many of its employees.

It said that dozens of developers had left BioWare over the past two years, with many citing stressful working conditions as staff battled against the clock to get its latest game, Anthem, ready for launch.

BioWare’s initial response to the report was critical, claiming that the piece unfairly singled out certain individuals. It said “the health and well-being of our team members is something we take very seriously”, adding: “We put a lot of focus on better planning to avoid ‘crunch time,’ and it was not a major topic of feedback in our internal postmortems”.

However, in a follow-up email sent to BioWare staff and obtained by Kotaku, Hudson admitted the report had raised many genuine issues.

“The article mentions many of the problems in the development of Anthem and some of our previous projects,” he wrote. “And it draws a link between those issues and the quality of our workplace and the well-being of our staff. These problems are real and it’s our top priority to continue working to solve them.”

Hudson said he took on the role of general manager at BioWare in 2017 “knowing the studio was experiencing significant challenges in team health, creative vision, and organizational focus. I was – and continue to be – excited to help drive improvements in those areas”.

“I’m not going to tell you I’ve done a good job at that, and on a day like today I certainly feel like I haven’t,” he added. “But some of the steps we’ve taken towards this include a more focused studio mission and values, so that we have clarity on what we are here to do and how we define a high standard for our studio culture.

“We updated our studio structure around a matrix so that department directors can be fully focused on individual career support and well-being. We are defining better role clarity so that people can succeed better against clear expectations. And we are putting in place production changes that will provide for clearer project vision as well as a significant post-production period that will further relieve pressure and anxiety on teams during development.”

While he acknowledged “there’s much more to do”, Hudson said he’s “committed to getting us to a place where we are delivering on the highest expectations for BioWare games, through a work environment that’s among the very best in the world”.