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BioWare Co-Founders Choose to Retire

Journal Entry: Tue Sep 18, 2012, 7:10 PM
Following close upon the Monday (9/17) announcement that Dragon Age 3 was on its way to becoming the next major BioWare studio release, BioWare founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka announced today that they are BOTH retiring from the gaming business.

Greg writes: "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."

:bulletblue: Read Greg's blog

Ray adds: "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."

:bulletblue: Read Ray's blog

Interestingly, and this could be analyzed in a variety of ways, EA/BioWare felt that the two announcements were of such impact that a THIRD letter to the community, a follow-up from BioWare Studio General Manager Aaryn Flynn, had to be added to the mix as well.

Longtime BioWare fans will know these two as the definitive forces that guided and shaped what was an indie RPG developer into the mainstream RPG force that it is today. The sudden announcement (although supposedly with 6 months advance notice internally to EA) seems like an odd follow-up to Monday's announcement of the imminent Dragon Age 3. Was this related to the difficulty of the SW:TOR team to meet their expected performance metrics? Does the decision (made in April 2012) come as fallout from the disaster of the Mass Effect 3 release? Is this a genuinely benign, but perhaps poorly timed career shift as the blogs claim? Could the content of the blogs plus the company's need to have BioWare studio General Manager Aaryn Flynn interject a statement as well suggest a deeper division within the company?

The timing of the departures seem to raise a lot of questions. Regardless, to the longtime BioWare fan, it is the ending of an era. Anyone else filled with a deep sense of mourning at its passing?

(We welcome our members to share their thoughts on this momentous change in BioWare history. Just keep in mind that we are still a fan community, so keept it peacefully worded, please!)

Add a Comment:
 
:iconthylja:
Thylja Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2012  Professional Artist
There's a reason people say that games industry years are like dog years. Now imagine how tired you must have grown of the circus after almost 20 years...
Although I think it is very sad that they're leaving the company, I fully understand it.
Now let's just hope that the teams don't decide to move on either and remain focussed, creative and allow their employees to become bolder again.
Reply
:iconblightfighter45:
blightfighter45 Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I hope the bioware company all together doesn't shut down
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:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2012
It probably won't, but there's a good chance team members might leave.
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:iconblightfighter45:
blightfighter45 Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
*sniff* it just wouldn't be the same after that
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:iconxxwafiqah:
XxWafiqah Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Aww. it's sad to see them go :(
Reply
:iconart-loving-fairybug:
Art-loving-Fairybug Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
This just screams, "Mass Effect 3 was such a big disgrace that somebody's head *had* to roll," if you as me. Although I personally ump Dragon Age 2 in with disgraces, so i'm glad that a head is rolling for that, too.
Reply
:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2012
You may like the head rolling part, but the heads being off'd in this case would be the original people who put BioWare on the map for quality RPGs. It's kinda a mixed feeling, from that perspective.
Reply
:iconart-loving-fairybug:
Art-loving-Fairybug Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
While this is true, and I don't wish to besmirch the good RPGs they have put out in the past, they are also the same people who allowed travesties like ME3 and DA2. Still, ME1, ME2 and DAO are beloved favorites of mine, so maybe they do deserve to be cut some slack.
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:iconbhryn:
Bhryn Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
I think the company has evolved a lot in the passing years, most of all. I still recall my first Bioware gaming experiences (as well as how I've already got a preorder on the Baldur's Gate re-release) but the strongest memory is of NWN. I loved DnD growing up as a kid - me and a group of friends would often stay behind after school to play DnD and GURPs so when NWN came out, I jumped at trying it. I was amazed by the world, I loved the gameplay but what really resonated with me was the characters.

I loved those characters dearly, I loved their stories, their desires and fears and how they interacted with not just me but others. Their voice acting was incredible for the time and I found myself wishing for more. Always more.

Over the years Bioware has changed in so many ways but what has never failed to continue their tradition of intensive story telling and characterisation. You don't just play their games to 'play a game'. You do it to fall in love, to make friends, to learn how people tick.

If the team can continue this, which I hope they do, then they have a wonderful future ahead of them.
Reply
:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2012
One can always hope they go back to the indie gaming scene. ^_^
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:iconbhryn:
Bhryn Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
I sincerely hope so! I'm still trying to blot out the Mass Effect ending, but I feel I wont ever make peace with it until I write a fanfiction about it and my feels, alas!

Until then, Paragon Lost soon!!!! :D
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:iconguen20:
guen20 Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I wish these fellas well, though I hope that this does not mean that this is the last we hear from them in the gaming community.
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:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2012
I hope not~!
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:iconguen20:
guen20 Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:)
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:iconjaderaven93:
JadeRaven93 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist
I'm sad to see these two go, whatever their reasons may be. I want to stay optimistic and give DA3 a chance, though. (And I'm already backing Project Eternity. ;))
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:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012
Yeah. Hanging onto optimism here as well!
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:iconphoenixtorque:
PhoenixTorque Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
As much as I want this to be innocent, as much as I may want to believe that this has nothing to do with management conflicts, I can't bring myself to look at it any other way. This whole thing feels like EA to me, and that crushes me.

But you know what? Fsck the haters; I LIKED Dragon Age II. Were there problems? Yes. Yes, there were lots of problems. There is no way to deny that. But at the end of the day, I felt like there was a solid game beneath the rushed schedules. I'll refrain from commenting on the content of ME3, but isn't there something to be said about the work they have done by the fact that gamers were so passionate about the world they created, about Shepard, that they took up in arms for the ending they wanted? SWTOR? I've been subbed since day negative-five, and I plan to stay subbed until the choice is rent or SWTOR. And because of that, I refuse to write off DA3 before I've played the whole way through. I want DA3 to be a successful game, dammit. I just am too hopeful to stop believing in the series, because I think there is something special there.

Of course, the doctors were an enormous part of BioWare, and this is the end of an era in some ways. I first played Baldur's Gate when I was about 8 years old. Some of my early memories are of discussing party structure and roles with my father, mother, and younger sister as we took walks around the lake. (I was the mDPS thief-mage.) It was Baldur's Gate that made me decide to pursue video games as a career, because I wanted to be able to make something like that, something that good. I hope that nothing will ever take that feeling and drive away from me.

So here's to you, Greg and Ray, and here's to your next step, whatever that may be. Just know that you have changed our lives, and the fans are forever in your debt.
Reply
:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012
*high five* I liked Dragon Age 2 better out of the two as well! If only all fans were able to be as dedicated as you are. I applaud your support of the company, however. :iconsaluteplz:
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:iconphoenixtorque:
PhoenixTorque Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I'm not sure I liked it BETTER, but I liked it a lot. Origins will always have a special place in my heart, but so will Varric, so I think they're about even. (: Also, there were several major improvements and interesting developments in DAII; better combat animation, the style of narration I found interesting, so on and so forth.

Honestly, my life would be different without BioWare. Certainly my goal in life would be different... seeing as there would be no Dragon Age franchise for me to aspire to work on. XD

There are few things in life that irk me as much as "fans" who spend all their time complaining about what they claim to be a fan of. Enjoy it. Look at what you like. Sure, you're allowed to complain sometimes, give your two cents, because that's how things evolve. But don't only talk about the things you don't like, celebrate what good has been done as well. That's what we should be doing as the doctors leave, celebrating the good they brought to the gaming industry. Because there was a lot of it.
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:icondeglorath:
Deglorath Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
The possibility of something deeper is always there for these things, but it's just as easily a simple choice to leave and do something new. I am sad to see them go, but they've been contributing for a long time, so I'll just bid them farewell and hope for the best in the future. In the meantime I am looking forward to a number of games that have showed up on kickstarter or other settings, including BG:EE, even if the UI makes me cringe.
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:iconcelticwolfwalker:
CelticWolfwalker Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm sorry to see these two men go, who were such a driving force with BioWare's success. However, it is a bit of a trend whenever EA decides to take over a company that does any kind of action/adventure/rpg game, that they tend to cash out on the successes of those games, not caring too much about the content or playability.

I wouldn't be surprised that with the way EA is making some of the decisions or wanting BioWare to go, these men decided to leave. I have seen the death of three gaming companies and popular games once EA bought them out.
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:iconsickbrush:
Sickbrush Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I'm not surprised, sorry. Some people last longer in the claws of EA, others just leave sooner. I remember talking to John Gallagher about the sad times when EA took over so again, i'm not surprised.
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:iconshade-of-wolf:
shade-of-wolf Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I hope it doesn't affect the games too much...this is kind of shocking.
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:iconpoly-m:
poly-m Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Professional Filmographer
"DISASTER" of Mass Effect 3 release ?...
Despite a lot of backlash, I think that critically and moreover COMMERCIALLY, the word "disaster" is a bit too strong, isnt it ?
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:iconbhryn:
Bhryn Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
I agree - I think 'divisive aftermath' would be more correct. ME3 was a little 'love it or hate it' and often a mix of both. In the end, you came down on the side of 'we need more, that was a BAD ending!' or 'I think it was fine'. I was in the former, but was also impressed by how they responded to the criticism and listened to the fans. Disaster is way too strong, but a fanbase divided and discussing it in loud voices fits better.
Reply
:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
It's what the critics are saying. When Forbes magazine reports on your product as bad business practice, that's pretty embarrassing.
Reply
:iconpoly-m:
poly-m Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Professional Filmographer
I prefer to think they left before seeing the real disaster of DA3.
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:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
So you're saying, "smart move". XD
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:iconpoly-m:
poly-m Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Professional Filmographer
Definetely :D
Reply
:iconmothbanquet:
mothbanquet Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Professional Writer
They're better off without BioWare now. DAO was the last truly great game they made. ME2 and everything thereafter had polish and sheen but nowhere near the sheer ambition, scope and attention to detail that game and Mass Effect 1 had.

Good luck to both of them and thanks for KOTOR, NWM, ME, DAO - you defined my gaming life, no matter how much EA ruined your company in the end.
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:iconladyofpayne:
Ladyofpayne Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
So sad. I wish them good luck.
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:iconharutotetsu:
HaruTotetsu Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Hopefully when they're replaced it will be by someone who is willing to tell EA to F*ck off with its constant need to get every penny from something. Not everything is as re-brandable as the Sims series.
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:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
Running a studio within a big org is very different than calling your own shots. EA has had many competent execs. Let's hope it's an honest change and was not a power/money struggle!
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:iconharutotetsu:
HaruTotetsu Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Agreed...
Reply
:icontaritoons:
TariToons Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012   General Artist
If BioWare wasn't killed by EA already, it now will die because of this.

Something tells me, that DA3 is going to be a even huger joke than DA2 because of this. I already miss the times of videogaming, where making avideogame was sending about a message and not about the money.
:iconjokerplz:
Reply
:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
Well, those were also the days when BioWare was a small scrappy up 'n coming gaming company. It's hard to stay true to those roots with the pressure of a big company. Which is why I'm supporting Project Eternity! (Random plug ftw)
Reply
:iconripleynox:
RipleyNox Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Professional Writer
You get all the win. Thanks for the random plug. :)
Reply
:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012
Yay! I like the win. Are you on the project? Because we heart you. :iconlove-plz:
Reply
:iconripleynox:
RipleyNox Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012  Professional Writer
It looks like a wonderful opportunity to get a really good game made. Hopefully they won't take a buy-out when the game gets popular and ruin it for everyone. If they do a good job with it, they won't need one.
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:iconnyila:
Nyila Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
OMG OMG OMG THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS LINK!!!!!

I didn't know about this, but this contains so much win.. There are no words! I've always supported Obsidian!

:iconcheerplz::iconcheerplz::iconcheerplz::iconcheerplz::iconcheerplz:

:iconllamacanplz::iconllamacanplz::iconllamacanplz::iconllamacanplz::iconllamacanplz:
Reply
:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
RIGHT THERE WITH YA! I just put in my contribution. ^_^
Reply
:icontaritoons:
TariToons Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012   General Artist
Oh my god, you should see my eyes sparkling now :squee:

I'm seriously thinking about pledgning 1,000 USD ... just because you are allowed to add a custom NPC to the game. I'm so exited right now! AHHH!!!
Reply
:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
I just watched the trailer again with my brother and we were like, "we know all these names!" And now we know their faces. ^_^
Reply
:iconheroes-die:
Heroes-Die Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Professional Writer
I definitely feel sad these amazing guys are moving on from Bioware as they created some of personal favourite games in the gaming industry, and Bioware might feel deflated with the loss: however, reading what they said (and perhaps reading between the lines) I think they felt they needed to separate themselves from the industry. That perhaps what made them love creating games isn't there anymore for them. And that's a good reason to move on as well.

Is this a merely a symptom of the point in their lives they've reached or of decisions made with EA and the explosive reactions and underwhelming response to recent games.....who knows? I hope their passion for gaming wasn't leached out of them by their move to EA , and that's what pushed them to move on. But I don't want to point blame either. I wish those guys all the best and hope people's reactions turn more towards wishing them well than an outpore of negativity towards Bioware's future. Cheers to you, Ray and Greg!
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:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
I think you really nailed it in your second paragraph. Couldn't have said it better myself! And yeah: whatever their reasons, I like to think that the fan community is supportive of their future endeavors, and respectful of the work they've accomplished and the games they've made for us! Still a little sadness, though. ^_^
Reply
:iconthedalishranger:
TheDalishRanger Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
^ Seconded. I'm not sure if this is related to pressure from EA or not but I'm also not going to jump into tin foil hat conspiracy territory. It's very unfortunate but I hope the two of them enjoy their new endeavors. While recent releases have had their bumps, I still remain a Bioware fan and look forward to DA3 and other future releases, even if it's without the doctoral duo.
Reply
:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
Yeah. I have questions, but as another member said, I'm optimistic for the future and the games will speak for themselves!
Reply
:iconthedalishranger:
TheDalishRanger Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Indeed. There has been a bit of a trend change in their recent games, but not all bad - some things I think are better, and the stuff that I don't like as much usually looks like it was due to a rush/crunch time. As long as they get the proper development times for their games, I'm optimistic for the future of Bioware. There's still a lot of the old talent remaining and new talent coming in.
Reply
:iconnightlyre:
Nightlyre Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
The timing is certainly curious, but ultimately, if they believe it's time to move on, that is their decision to make. As to what it means for BioWare - well, the games will speak for themselves. I remain a fan and I don't see that changing anytime soon! :)
Reply
:iconinversereality-2:
InverseReality-2 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
I think that the marketing folks could have planned it all out better, and gut instinct says that there was probably some issues with the upper management, but they are choosing to leave with grace. And as you say, we'll know by the games themselves!
Reply
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