BioWare admits reported studio problems are real in internal email

By Sherif Saed, Friday, 5 April 2019 10:39 GMT

BioWare has acknowledged that the studio’s cultural problems, which recently came to light, are in fact real.

Earlier this week, Kotaku ran a big report about BioWare’s culture of crunch, Anthem’s long and troubled development, and various other issues with the studio’s senior leadership.

Publicly, BioWare issued a statement that mostly dismissed the report’s claims, but internally, it admitted them. A memo sent to employees following the report’s publication was obtained by Kotaku.

In it, general manager Casey Hudson explains that BioWare chose not to comment on the article directly because it found naming specific team members “out of bounds.” Nonetheless, Hudson admitted that “these problems are real and it’s our top priority to continue working to solve them.”

We’ve included the full email below:

Hey BioWare,

I wanted to get a note out to you to share my thoughts on the Kotaku article and the online discussion it has raised.

The article mentions many of the problems in the development of Anthem and some of our previous projects. 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.

What we found out-of-bounds was the naming of specific developers as targets for public criticism. It’s unfair and extremely traumatizing to single out people in this way, and we can’t accept that treatment towards any of our staff. That’s why we did not participate in the article and made a statement to that effect.

When I was offered the opportunity to return to BioWare as GM, I came into the role 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 because I love this studio, and above all I want to create a place where all of you are happy and successful.

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. 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.

But I know there’s much more to do, and we will talk in more detail about other actions we have been planning in response to internal feedback and postmortems at next week’s All-Hands. As always please continue to provide feedback on further steps we can take to make BioWare the best possible place to work.

I’m 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. With your help, we will get there.

Please let me know if you’d like to talk in person and I will be happy to set up time to hear your thoughts.

Casey.

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