Bioware Edmonton’s contracted team of Quality Assurance (QA) developers, Keywords Studios, is reportedly looking to unionize over concerns of bad pay and COVID-19 safety as a full-time office return was announced earlier this month.
Kotaku reported confirming that the Alberta Labour Relations Board received an application from Keywords Studios bargaining agent, the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Union, Local No. 401. A Keywords Studios representative told Happy Mag in a statement that the team is not happy being forced to return to a five-day in-office workweek during an ongoing pandemic.
Those concerns are especially warranted as the Bioware studio is based in the Alberta province, which is seeing close to 1,000 new COVID-19 cases daily. What’s frustrating is that Bioware employees working on Dragon Age 4 are not being asked to return to the office full-time starting on May 9th.
It also doesn’t help the pay isn’t that great with QA contractors at the studio making $16 CAD an hour which is only a single dollar more than the province’s minimum wage. Currently, the ongoing situation is “still developing we are gathering facts and will have a statement as soon as possible.“ It remains to be seen if these ongoing QA unionization plans will have an impact on the upcoming Bioware game’s reported 2023 release target, according to game journalist, Jeff Grubb in a Grubbsnax episode.
Dragon Age 4 was initially announced at the 2018 edition of The Game Awards and was further teased once again at The Game Awards in 2020. Keywords Studios’ first came on board to support Bioware Edmonton with the development of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, since then the team has also worked on the recently released Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion, Legacy of the Sith. The studio offers a number of services including QA, localization, and asset creation.