Mass Effect fans officially know Nov. 7 as N7 Day, which BioWare usually commemorates with teases of upcoming installments of the series – and this year’s N7 Day is no exception. However, the tease for the next Mass Effect comes amid serious turmoil at the company, with previous layoffs, a lawsuit, and a protest looming in the backdrop.
Still, for its part, BioWare marked the occasion by dropping what appears to be the first look at Mass Effect 5, possibly teasing its name: Epilson. After posting a countdown with the header “Access Code: Epilson” on EA’s website, the studio posted a five-second video on the Mass Effect YouTube channel titled “N7 Day 2023 | EPSILON.” It’s… honestly not much, just showing someone’s boots, but those boots do seem to have N7 colors.
Plus, the countdown description was updated to say the following:
“/////SECONDARY ENCRYPTION DETECTED
/////ANDROMEDA DISTRESS SIGNAL DETECTED
/////YEAR SENT: [REDACTED]
/////AUDIO TRANSCRIPT: ALTHOUGH THEY SHOULD KNOW BY NOW NOT TO UNDERESTIMATE HUMAN [REDACTED]”
That audio transcript is from last year’s N7 Day teaser, a message from Liara T’Soni saying “The Council will be furious! Although, they should know by now not to underestimate human defiance!”
As of press time, another countdown is now live on the site, with approximately 20 minutes on the clock.
Still, even as fans get excited over the new glimpse of what the next Mass Effect game could actually be, several suing laid-off BioWare devs are hoping this year’s N7 Day can serve as a reminder of “the importance of loyalty to your crew.”
Turmoil at BioWare
BioWare laid off 50 roles back in August, sparking a lawsuit with seven former devs demanding better severance. Now, in a new statement first reported by Kotaku’s Ethan Gach, the group of suing devs say “BioWare’s lawyers refused any offers to negotiate and settle out of court.”
More BioWare news: laid off devs suing for severance say the company is going to court instead of negotiating a settlement and call the process anything but “empathetic, respectful.”
They call N7 day a reminder of “the importance of loyalty to your crew”https://t.co/sBT04B0Dvq pic.twitter.com/UAu5yNUVJq
— AmericanTruckSongs9 (@ethangach) November 6, 2023
“Despite what they publicly announced when they laid us off, this process has been anything but empathetic, respectful, and communicative,” said one of the devs in a statement in the press release.
They additionally say that they believe BioWare is using “intimidation and stalling tactics” to try and get the group to drop the lawsuit: “A lot of the more junior employees and those with families, who had more monetary pressure on them, could not risk waiting on a court case that may take many months more to resolve, and have already had to drop out,” it adds.
The just of the lawsuit is that the former employees should be receiving 1.7 months of severance per year of service. Currently, the employees are only entitled to two weeks of severance per year at the company, all because of a contract provision that counsel R. Alex Kennedy says is unenforceable.
Meanwhile, Game Developer reports that quality assurance testers at Keywords Studios, who were laid off separately earlier this year while working on Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, will be picketing BioWare’s Edmonton headquarters today. BioWare ended its contract with the studio back in October – its union is contesting the termination, though, and arguing that that there may be union-busting tactics at play.
Also according to the Game Developer report, EA and BioWare appealed to the Alberta Labour Relations Board to block the protest, claiming that the issue was between Keywords and the laid-off employees. The board, however, ruled in the union’s favor, and the protest will continue.
It is, no doubt, a complicated N7 Day for Mass Effect and BioWare fans, but we’ll keep an eye out for more developments.
Alex Stedman is a Senior News Editor with IGN, overseeing entertainment reporting. When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her reading fantasy novels or playing Dungeons & Dragons.
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Author: Alex Stedman