BioWare Co-founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka Retire from the Industry

18 Sep 2012

You might remember the recent rumors that claimed that BioWare co-founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka were leaving the company, and that ultimately seemed to be put to rest by the lack of evidence and the fact that Zeschuk simply changed roles at the company. Well, in retrospect, those rumors were pretty close to the truth, as today comes the news that the duo is retiring from the industry.

The BioWare blog post includes the links to both Greg Zeschuk's and Ray Muzyka's letters, while BioWare Edmonton and Montreal's general manager Aaryn Flynn writes on the future of BioWare.

Here's a quote from Ray Muzyka's extensive letter:
I feel the need now to move on to a new chapter in my career. With the growth of BioWare to multiple locations as part of a public company, following two decades of multiple successful product launches across many platforms and business models, I’ve largely personally achieved what I wanted in videogames; I now desire to take on a brand new entrepreneurial challenge. I believe strongly in the power of free enterprise to enable sustainable change, so my next ‘chapter’ will likely focus on an entirely new industry, something exciting, different and frankly downright scary – investing in and mentoring new entrepreneurs, and more specifically, the field of social/impact investing. There’s a good description of the goals of this form of entrepreneurship here. Impact investment, or social entrepreneurship, can range from simply thinking about social goals along with the usual business profit goals, all the way to a dedicated focus on a social entrepreneurship portfolio with the social impact defined as the primary goal. For me, getting involved in social impact investment stems from the simple hope of helping the world to be a better place. To that end, I’ll also be spending time getting involved with more charities in education, health care, and animal rights, areas where my wife and I’ve typically focused our charitable donations in the past. I am also spending more time learning about the work being done to defend human rights and civil liberty across the world. Net, I am passionate about both entrepreneurship and social liberty, and I want to find a way to pursue both of them.

I remain passionate about video games – they’ll definitely remain one of my favorite hobbies. I see tremendous opportunity ahead for BioWare and its parent company Electronic Arts. I’ve been thrilled to see many exciting products in early development the past few months in the universes of Mass Effect and Dragon Age, as well as new content and business models for SWTOR, new play for free titles like Command and Conquer, Ultima Forever and social games on PC, tablets and mobile, and much more across BioWare and the wider EA team. It is a dynamic and truly exciting time in videogames, and it is reassuring to know that BioWare and its teams as a division of EA will continue to play a vibrant and important role in this industry. Frankly, I’m quite excited by the thought of being able to play the next generation of BioWare games purely as a fan!

The past five+ years at EA have been very good for me personally. I’ve learned a lot about navigating successfully within a larger publicly traded company, working with – and continually being inspired by – a large, passionate team across many locations. My teams and I have benefited tremendously from the mentorship, wisdom and continuous strong support of EA’s leadership team in EA’s President Frank Gibeau, COO Peter Moore and CEO John Riccitiello, among many others; the company and its management team have been consistently supportive of BioWare’s culture and commitment to quality and creativity.

I leave BioWare and EA and the video game industry with tremendously positive memories from both the early days at BioWare – Baldur’s Gate I and II, Shattered Steel, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Sonic Chronicles, Mass Effect all come to mind, to name a few – and also more recently with BioWare as a division and most recently a Label within EA – during this period, we released Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age: Origins and DAII, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Warhammer: Wrath of Heroes, Mass Effect 3, and more. From what I’ve seen over the past few months, I can attest that the best is yet to come; my teams at all of BioWare’s studios have many more fantastic products on the horizon for our great community of fans.

And from Zeschuk's own letter:
After nearly twenty years working at BioWare I’ve decided it’s time to move on and pursue something new. This decision isn’t without significant pain and regret, but it’s also something I know I need to do, for myself and my family. I’ve reached an unexpected point in my life where I no longer have the passion that I once did for the company, for the games, and for the challenge of creation. For the people I have had the privilege of working with, however, my passion burns as brightly as it did the day we started. The people I work with now, and that I have worked with in the past, have inspired me and really made all of the challenges we’ve collectively faced over the years worthwhile. We have been blessed with tremendous success over the years at BioWare, and the reason is simply down to a large number of great people doing great work. Successful people or companies have to admit luck also plays a part in their success, and it certainly did for us; a few times over the years we made the right game at the right time and success flowed as a result. When we got it right, it was like a hole in one or a home run; it was a magical feeling and incomparable in positive impact for everyone involved.

At BioWare we’ve always valued the effort of the team, as well as the herculean efforts of passionate individuals. I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the best people in the games business; some of them are well known, and some are not. What every single one of them does is commit himself or herself fully to the act of doing great work, whatever it is, and then stubbornly pursues the goal until it is achieved. The amazing thing about working at BioWare is that everyone does this; it is part of the culture we helped foster and grow. BioWare’s foundation in its Core Values, passion and professionalism remains in the very fiber of the company. One thing I’m confident of is that we’ve built a great team that will continue to succeed long after I’m gone. The thing I’m most proud of is the success of people that we’ve help grow over the years; I hope all of them exceed anything I’ve ever done and eclipse our achievements. I have full confidence in the current leadership team guiding BioWare to continued future success.

And finally, here's Flynn's take on what's in store in the future of the popular developer (which apparently includes a brand new title that's not a Mass Effect nor a Dragon Age title):
Love of games, respect for the players, teamwork and integrity – those are the hallmarks of a culture built by Ray and Greg. It started in their hearts and minds, ran through their daily actions, and resonated deeply in the people that joined them in their remarkable journey. And now with their retirement, the creative teams at BioWare Edmonton & Montreal are ready to carry on that legacy:

• DRAGON AGE 3: Inquisition – Yesterday, we announced that BioWare is now developing the next chapter of the Dragon Age series. Executive Producer Mark Darrah and our teams have been meeting with fans about what they want in a new Dragon Age game. I love spending time with the Dragon Age team as they work on Inquisition. The thought-provoking discussions, the fun, and most of all, the discovery of what’s possible on a new engine is both exhilarating and humbling.

• MASS EFFECT – Executive Producer Casey Hudson and his team are coming off an amazing eight-year run with the Mass Effect trilogy. But they’re not done yet. We are releasing more multiplayer content and we have more single-player stories coming throughout the next six months, including Omega which is coming in the Fall. But the Mass Effect universe is vast, and Casey and our teams have plans for another full game. “Where to go next?” with such a project has been a question a lot of us have been asking, and we’d all love to hear your ideas.

• BRAND NEW GAMES FROM BIOWARE – Both Dragon Age and Mass Effect started as single games but grew into vast universes. But we aren’t stopping there. While Casey continues to oversee the development of our new Mass Effect project, he and his leads are putting together their vision for an all new game set in a fictional universe, built from the bottom-up with all new gaming technology.

As the GM for Edmonton and Montreal, I know that creative people are delivering new content and gameplay for established franchises, and new games that go in new directions.

Ray and Greg built BioWare to last. They’ve always known their retirement would come one day, so they developed a team of people who would ensure their standards and culture would endure. We’ll humbly carry that torch and continue learning in the process.

Regardless of what our thoughts might be on BioWare's latest titles, "the doctors" had a hand in some of the titles that most defined the CRPG genre, and we wish them well in their next ventures.
 
 

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