Dragon Age fans are concerned that layoffs at developer BioWare are evidence that the series' future is uncertain - and a single former member of staff appears to be the catalyst for much of that sentiment.
Last night, BioWare said that it had laid off 50 developers to help "ensure Dragon Age: Dreadwolf is an outstanding game." Among those laid off was Mary Kirby, a BioWare veteran who has been at the studio since 2006, since the inception of the Dragon Age series. In the past 17 years, she contributed to all three games and their DLC, and is considered to be the driving force behind one of the series' most beloved characters, Varric Tethras, and some of its best quests.
The response to the layoffs, and Kirby's departure, has been unsurprisingly negative. More than the traditional outpouring of sympathy that usually accompanies events like this, however, there's a tangible sense within the entire Dragon Age community that this might be a death knell for the series as a whole.
Dragon Age creator David Gaider said that Kirby's departure was "incredibly sad," and many fans on social media have echoed that sentiment. Others are shocked at the decision to part with one of the studio's best writers, highlighting the importance of Kirby's work across those characters and quests.
On Reddit, one Dragon Age fan said that Kirby's departure was "deeply saddening," and that "on a personal level it's just really damn disheartening to see such talent and passion that helped make me and many others fall in love with the world get fucking laid off." Others have noted how few writers now remain at the studio who have worked across the entire Dragon Age series.
Several comments suggest that the writing may be on the wall for the entire Dragon Age series, pointing out that parting ways with experienced writing staff doesn't bode well for DLC, let alone subsequent games. BioWare has made no secret of the fact that its next game after Dragon Age 4 is Mass Effect 5, and that could easily mean our next return to Thedas is the best part of a decade away. Revivals of long-dormant franchises happen all the time, so it's hard to say that we'd never see Dragon Age again after Dreadwolf, but it's clear that fan's hopes are not high.