All union workers in Dragon Age: Dreadwolf QA have been laid off

All of Keywords Studios’ unionized QA workers were laid off from the studio in late September afterward Dragon Age: Dreadwolf Developer BioWare declined to continue its contract in August.

QA workers, who were hired to help with play testing and quality assurance at BioWare Edmonton, won their union vote in June 2022. All 16 eligible voters said “yes” to joining the United Food and Commercial Workers of Canada, Local 401. It was a historic vote, making the group the first gaming industry association in Canada. Keywords Studios workers were negotiating with the company when they were laid off following news of 50 job cuts at BioWare itself.

A UFCW representative told Polygon that 13 people have been laid off — all of whom support BioWare. Liz Corliss, global head of marketing at Keywords Studios, confirmed that 13 quality assurance workers have been laid off in Edmonton.

“We can confirm that it is unfortunate that the 13 Edmonton-based employees have left the business following the expiration of a fixed-term client contract,” Corliss wrote in an email.

The group of workers were laid off on September 27. Russwurm added that Keywords Studios “took the position that there was no more work available.” (Keywords Studios has many QA-related job postings listed on its website, both in Canada and around the world. Many, but not all, of these listings are related to language localization and require specializations that laid-off workers may not have.)

The union filed an employment standards complaint against Keywords Studios this week, Russwurm said. He added that Keywords Studios offered “minimal separation,” which the union opposes. He added that the end-of-service bonus has not yet been disbursed. (Several BioWare employees who were laid off at the time are currently suing the company for “appropriate severance.” These are two separate matters for two separate companies, although they are related to Dragon Age: Dreadwolf.)

Although unionized QA workers do not yet have a contract with Keywords Studios, they can try to negotiate better severance pay.

Keywords Studios is headquartered in Ireland but has over 20 offices around the world. Founded in 1998, the studio does not publish or develop its own games – instead, it provides technical, quality assurance, audio, and other development support to other studios, such as BioWare.

revision: This story has been updated to correctly attribute the quote.

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