Apex Legends Season 16: Revelry is all about celebrating the game’s fourth year. Sadly, playtesters at EA’s Baton Rouge office are unlikely to join the festivities after more than 200 of them were fired earlier today, according to a report from Kotaku. According to the publication’s sources, the announcement came via a “surprise Zoom call,” during which hundreds of Apex Legends testers were unceremoniously dropped by the AAA game publisher.
Described as “unscheduled and mandatory”, it’s clear that the Zoom call came as a shock to both the testers themselves and the company’s top-level supervisors – the latter of whom reportedly received no notice or time to prepare ahead of the layoffs in Tuesday mass. Adding insult to injury, Kotaku’s sources claim that after the surprise Zoom meeting, employees who were fired were only allowed to clear their desks and collect personal belongings under the direct supervision of EA’s security personnel. EA is offering 60 days of severance, though that’s far less time than most employees still had in their employment contracts.
Not to be confused with the publisher’s volunteer playtesters, the staff at EA’s Baton Rouge office were official EA employees working in the quality assurance department. While the Louisiana-based office has worked on other titles in the past, its focus has shifted specifically to Apex Legends ahead of the surprise launch of the battle royale hit in February 2019. Sources who spoke with Kotaku expressed concerns about the impact of the layoffs on the game itself. Apex Legends runs on a heavily modified version of the Source Engine and is no stranger to quite significant bugs that sometimes went unresolved for months. Having fewer QA specialists available can make troubleshooting a little more difficult in the future.
EA has yet to make any official comment on the matter, but it looks like some internal restructuring is taking place where Apex Legends is concerned. Last month, Respawn announced that the award-winning Apex Legends Mobile would be shutting down on May 1st – just days before its one year anniversary on May 17th. Another major shakeup for the franchise included the cancellation of single-player Apex. Legends, which was actively in development before being cancelled. Additionally, Season 16 started with no new Legend set to debut alongside the new season – a first for the game, which has historically introduced a new Legend every three months. While some of these changes in direction are arguably good for the overall health of the game, the impact of today’s massive playtester layoff remains to be seen. Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine a situation where fewer QA testers would benefit the game.
Apex Legends is free to play on console and PC. A mobile version of the game, Apex Legends Mobile, is available to play on Android and iOS devices, but will be retired on May 1st.
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