On Tuesday this week, Kotaku published a devastating exposé of BioWare, interviewing 19 people in the know to reveal a state of “crisis” in the company over the production of Anthem, from a busted engine and “stress casualties” piling up over what sure appears to be poor management.
Immediately following the publication of the piece, BioWare added fuel to the fire by essentially publicly shading Kotaku for “tearing down” “specific team members and leaders” and “one another’s work,” but that was a tad bizarre, since Kotaku didn’t really do that; it appears to have limited name-drops to those of bosses in public-facing leadership roles, presumably because that is how leadership works. That led to a round of concern over whether BioWare was taking any of it seriously at all.
Well… maybe it is, kinda. According to Kotaku, yesterday BioWare general manager Casey Hudson sent ’round an internal memo addressing the Kotaku piece and calling them “real” and saying it’s the studio’s “top priority to continue working to solve them” – in line with his public statements on Twitter.
“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,” Hudson writes.
“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 don’t get too excited; Hudson also goes right back to shading Kotaku. “What we found out-of-bounds was the naming of specific developers as targets for public criticism,” Hudson maintains. “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.” In other words, he seems to be suggesting that Kotaku was naming-and-shaming rank-and-file developers en masse when in fact it seems to have painstakingly focused on management with power and responsibility – like Casey Hudson himself.