Following last month’s successful union vote at Activision subsidiary Raven Software, QA testers at another major games studio have voted to form a union. Employees at Bioware contractor Keywords Studios voted unanimously in favor of unionizing on Tuesday. The vote makes the Edmonton studio the first in the games industry to unionize in Canada.
QA testers at Keywords first filed to unionize on April 20. According to a Kotaku report in April, employees cited low wages and unsatisfactory Covid-19 office protocols as factors in their decision to unionize. QA testers across the industry face uneven pay and long work hours, as well as poor job security.
Keywords’ QA testers are responsible for working on the latest entry in one of Bioware’s largest franchises, the fourth game in the Dragon Age series. Last week, Bioware announced that Dragon Age 4 will be officially called Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, releasing a teaser trailer that connects the final moments of the third game to the plot of its successor. Dreadwolf has been in development since 2018, and doesn’t yet have a release date.
The games industry as a whole has seen an explosion of unionization efforts in the past few months. A major precedent is Game Workers United, the union formed by Raven Software in May, who congratulated the Keywords union for their victory on Twitter. GWA’s victory, the first at a major games studio in the US, followed a weeks-long strike and a months-long bargaining process, and has galvanized the foundation of unions across the industry.