Yesterday, BioWare GM Casey Hudson sent an email to employees acknowledging that “these problems are real” and promising that it is “our top priority to continue working to solve them.” The full memo, internal response to an article from Kotaku about studio morale and working conditions during Anthem development, has been leaked.
The article, which painted a sad picture of a studio that was struggling to find balance, originally inspired what many saw as a poorly worded response from Bioware, who claimed they did not see the value of that type of journalism. Later reports then emerged that Bioware staff had received no internal communication about the article, or the issues it raised and had merely been told not to speak to the press. Finally, late on Wednesday, the internal memo was sent. The full text of the memo is shown below.
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.
As you can see, the tone is far more polished and less defensive than Bioware’s original statement. It must also be largely welcomed by Bioware staff, who can now at least feel like internal issues have been acknowledged, rather than merely being told that talking to the press, even around important and worrying issues, is a bad thing.
We will keep you updated on this story as more, inevitably, unfolds.