After multiple delays and over four years of development, Mass Effect: Andromeda has finally been released to great anticipation. There’s no denying that game has had a somewhat lengthy development period, but if a company review from an alleged former BioWare employee is to be believed, it appears that there’s a reason behind the five year gap between Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda.
In a scathing Glassdoor review dating back to July 27, 2016, an alleged former employee from the BioWare Montreal studio revealed that the working conditions were harsh and uncompromising before deeming the company as a place to avoid for employment. The former employee states that conflicts were common between the Montreal and Edmonton studios, and this leadership clash has resulted the alleged departure of over 16 lead developers of various disciplines across both studios. While a grain of salt must be taken with this claim, it isn’t too much of a stretch to assume that there’s some truth to this claim given the number of notable departures from the Mass Effect: Andromeda development team over the past year, such as former Mass Effect director Chris Wynn and former lead writer Chris Schlerf.
The former employee then proceeds to elaborate on how the studio handles managerial conflicts, claiming that BioWare Montreal would place people on a “performance improvement program”, which ultimately amounted to nothing more than a tactic to lay-off employees who didn’t adhere to the preferred BioWare leadership style.
After revealing the abundance of conflicts and departures, the former employee then details the harsh working conditions during their time at BioWare Montreal. The last-minute deadline “crunch time” was renamed to “finaling mode”, which was described as a “catastrophe” – although lunch was paid for by the company, employees were only given 30 minutes to eat before heading back to work. This ultimately had a negative effect on employment benefits, which were cut due to this “finaling mode” according to the former employee.
And finally, the former employee claims that “harassment and retaliation” were part of the norm at BioWare Montreal in regards to resolving conflicts, before stating that HR isn’t a viable option as all harassment claims were either dropped or not documented. The former employee ultimately gives their former studio a one-star rating and a “Doesn’t Recommend” tag, before stating that they are “not going to waste [their] breath” in giving advice to BioWare’s management as “they won’t listen anyway.”
While it remains to be seen whether these claims are indeed true, given that this company review appeared on Glassdoor a couple of months after Mass Effect: Andromeda was delayed from 2016 to 2017, it does shed some light into possible reasons why the game went through such a lengthy development process and why the project saw numerous delays and departures.
Ultimately though, these poor working condition claims need to be taken with a massive grain of salt, but perhaps this explains why Mass Effect: Andromeda felt uneven in terms of quality as claimed by many video game critics.