Having begun their journey in 1995 and constantly revolutionized the games industry with innovative RPG’s, BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk both announced their retirement today. And not just from BioWare, they claim, but from game development entirely.
Certainly one of the more non-traditional paths to studio inception, Muzyka and Zeschuk founded BioWare together (along with Augustine Yip) after earning medical degrees at the University of Alberta. It’s only appropriate, if rare, then, that the two would decide to step down together as well – and indeed they released dual parting letters on the BioWare website today outlining the reasons for their departure.
According to Ray Muzyka, the decision to leave BioWare didn’t come easy. He writes in his letter that he’s “moving on to pursue an entirely different set of challenges,” but that exiting the video games industry is purely due to his thirst for a “new chapter” in life. That chapter: entrepreneurship. Specifically, “investing in and mentoring” in entrepreneurs with the goal of engineering philanthropy and social change.
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.
Zeschuk, on the other hand, appears to have grown more weary of the business after nearly 20 years of devotion. He writes of the pain and regret accompanying such a choice, but of why it was necessary for him and his 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.”
Like Muzyka, Zeschuk sees returning to games as a distant, and perhaps even unlikely proposition. In addition to more family time, he’s committed to pursuing craft beers and aims to host a web-based interview show on the subject. If game development ever does return, it will be on the other side of tasting a few good brews:
“I can state that I’m not going to be working in games for a while, and there’s a strong possibility that I won’t be back. After my departure I’m going to be spending significant time with family and friends, as well as pursuing some personal passion-driven projects related to craft beer. The main project I will be working on is a web-based interview show called The Beer Diaries where I interview notable brewers and showcase their beers. If things go well, I’ll work on other beer-related shows, apps and projects. If not, I’ll have drunk a lot of tasty beers and may be back in games or even something else completely different. Ultimately time will tell.”
Both developers had nothing but kind words for the relationships and corporate partnerships forged during their run – they concluded by thanking the BioWare team; fans; and Electronic Arts, who acquired the company in 2007. It’s hard nonetheless, though, to ignore the many changing attitudes regarding BioWare over the last few years.
There’s a strong contingent of fans who see legendary RPGs like Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic and the first Mass Effect as the product of a different studio, the creative output of an independent juggernaut before Electronic Arts negotiated their way into the mix. Under the wing of the publisher, arguments abound that Mass Effect 2 was an appeasement to modern-day first-person shooters; that Mass Effect 3 – it’s controversial ending – was rushed and constrained; or that Dragon Age 2… well, yeah, Dragon Age 2.
Parting letters certainly wouldn’t have been the place for Muzyka or Zeschuk to abandon grace and humility in any case, but ultimately speculation won’t dissolve any time soon as to the complete reason they left.
Not to mention where BioWare is headed without their stewardship.
Ranters, what do you think about the departure of Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk from BioWare? How will their absence impact the studio in the future?
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