BioWare contractors continue to speak out, after announcing earlier in the week that they are planning to unionize. The QA devs, who work for the Irish-based Keywords Studios, say they are taking this action due to low pay, and the recent news that they will have to return to the office, despite high cases of Covid-19 in the area.
The workers say that they are paid minimum wage for their work, despite the area – Edmonton, Canada – having incredibly high rent. Without a raise from this $11 USD an hour pay, they say they "cannot continue doing this work", as most of their pay is spent on rent and rising food costs.
A representative from the proposed union spoke to Game Developer about the conditions at the company, as they continue to work on Dragon Age 4. Speaking about the situation at the BioWare office, they say that their coworkers have treated them well, but they are not included in social events. On top of this, non-contractors in the same department make "double" their pay, and are given days off while Keywords staff are still required to work.
The recent change to their Covid policy was also a major factor behind the decision. "Our team has been working remotely for years now but the same affordances to studio employees on work from home or hybrid options weren't given to us", the representative said.
However, despite all of this, BioWare is not the focus of their efforts. "Our main grievances are with Keywords Studios," they said, suggesting that it's their own employer that is responsible for much of their grievances.
Of course, this is not the first time BioWare has found itself at the centre of a labour dispute. Damning reports published back in 2019 detailed accounts of crunch and messy development cycles for Dragon Age: Inquisition and its original sequel – which was later scrapped. It remains to be seen if these issues have improved in recent years.
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