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BioWare co-founders retire

BioWare co-founders retire

Tue 18 Sep 2012 6:48pm GMT / 2:48pm EDT / 11:48am PDT
People

Drs. Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka walk away from the studio they created, as well as the gaming industry as a whole

EA BioWare

BioWare develops high quality console, PC and online role-playing games, focused on rich stories, unforgettable...

bioware.com

It's the end of an era at BioWare, as co-founders Dr. Greg Zeschuk and Dr. Ray Muzyka are retiring from the company they founded nearly two decades ago.

In separate messages posted on the studio's official website, Zeschuk and Muzyka explained their decisions, as well as talked about what they would be doing next.

"After nearly two decades in videogames, I've decided to move on to pursue an entirely different set of challenges," Muzyka explained. "This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make; after thinking about it for many months, I made the decision to retire from videogames back in early April 2012 - at that time I provided six months' notice to EA, to help enable a solid transition for my teams at BioWare."

Muzyka is retiring from games entirely, and is stepping into the field of social impact investment with the goal of helping make the world a better place. Specific causes in which he will be getting more involved include education, health care, and animal rights.

"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."

Ray Muzyka

"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," Muzyka explained."

Zeschuk is also stepping away from the gaming industry, saying, "I'm not going to be working in games for a while, and there's a strong possibility that I won't be back." In the short-term, Zeschuk said he will spend time with family and friends and pursue his passion for craft beer, including working on a web-based interview show called The Beer Diaries.

salute

A salute to the departing doctors.

"After nearly twenty years working at BioWare I've decided it's time to move on and pursue something new," Zeschuk said. "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."

As for the studio's future, both developers expressed faith in the team that had been assembled, with Zeschuk saying, "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." Muzyka added, "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."

"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."

Greg Zeschuk

In their notes, both doctors also thanked each other, BioWare's employees, the fans, and Electronic Arts, which acquired BioWare (along with Pandemic Studios) in October 2007.

"Working with John Riccitiello, Frank Gibeau, Peter Moore and the rest of the EA team was a great experience and their support was essential in us being able to achieve our creative goals with Dragon Age, Mass Effect and Star Wars: The Old Republic," Zeschuk said. "Thanks to the team at Electronic Arts we had an amazing run. I've had the great fortune of making a number of lifelong friends within EA that I'll always cherish; happily I leave this experience with great people to remember it by."

In his own statement, BioWare Edmonton and Montreal general manager Aaryn Flynn thanked the departing doctors for their work creating the studio's culture and leadership team, then assured fans that the remaining developers would carry on their work.

swtor

Old Republic players may sense a disturbance in the Force.

"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," Flynn said. "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. To the Doctors: I wish you the very best, and we will always honor your legacy. The games we develop will always share your unique creativity and steadfast integrity. "Now it's up to us to show the world what you taught us."

17 Comments

An era has ended.

Posted:2 years ago

#1
Wow.. Best wishes to both, they certainly left a mark.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

James Brightman
Editor in Chief

227 271 1.2
This is a real shocker to say the least. Every time I've interviewed them both has been an absolute pleasure. They are so unlike anyone else in this industry and it's hard to believe they're moving on, but I wish them both all the best.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,536 1,337 0.9
I really don't think it's a shocker. EA's... interference/influence (call it what you will), combined with the crunch periods of trying to churn out sequels to DA and ME is fairly obviously a working environment that burns out certain creative types. Factor in the job losses from BioWare over the past few months, and the relative failure of TOR, and I can't imagine working at BioWare is anything like what it was when Zeschuk and Muzyka founded it.

Or, to put it another way, it's Bullfrog all over again.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

James Brightman
Editor in Chief

227 271 1.2
I understand your point Morville, but to me that they're both leaving not only BioWare but the whole industry, that's very much a surprise.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,536 1,337 0.9
Mmmm... My immediate thought with that (though I admit it to be a very cynical thought) was that it was a condition of their leaving BioWare. Equivalent to a CEO's word that they would leave the field of business for a certain amount of time, as a diplomatic way of severing ties between the old business and any potential new employer in the future. It would be a way for EA to save face, especially given the timing (the new DA game, the new ME franchise game, etc).

Then again, spending time on a hobby involving beer and brewing is an awesome idea. :)

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
I agree James. This isn't just a retirement from Bioware. This is a retirement. Sad to see them go. While Bioware has had some serious problems under their EA overlords, these are two men I always have and always will respect as pillars of the industry. Good luck to them in the future, and I do hope we happen to hear from them again in gaming...

Posted:2 years ago

#7
The issue seems to be that we have seen a number of investors and high profile executives exodus from the consumer games trade - the question that need to be addressed is what they have seen that made them run from a sector that the consumer game media claims is thriving?

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Patrick Williams
Medicine and Research

93 61 0.7
I also was not surprised to see them go, though its sad because of everything they've created. I recall recently reading an article that one of the actually hadn't been seen at the office he worked at in months, speculating that this was coming. It was a surprise however that they would completely retire. I recall that Patrice Desilet was forced into a 1 year sabbatical following his leaving Ubisoft for THQ but its not clear if that's what is happening here.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Kingman Cheng
Illustrator and Animator

952 180 0.2
Wow, leaving the industry? Good luck to you guys.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Joshua Rose
Executive Producer / Lead Designer

191 81 0.4
Wow.... This is probably the most interesting news i've heard all month, even more than the iPhone 5 and Wii U buzz.

I think it's safe to say the industry just lost two of the greatest minds for game development ever. These guys pretty much redefined the entire RPG genre. It will be a long time before anybody else will ever become such a distinguished member of the gaming industry. I only wish I could have met them at least once. The idea of having conversations with such influential people in the industry would be worth more than gold.

After the last few years with Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and SWTOR, I can only imagine just how burnt out they both are. It's one thing to have a crunch time towards the end of the development stages prior to release, usually an individual studio only has to worry about their own project. Imagine all the stuff these guys had to juggle on a daily basis, for months on end. Only to have a release, then go back into crunch time less than 4 months later for the end of another development cycle in another studio.

I wish them both the very best, and hope they enjoy their 'retirement'. Beer crafting is probably one of the best things you could possibly do during a retirement haha.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Tameem Antoniades
Creative Director & Co-founder

196 164 0.8
Congratulations - a well deserved retirement.

Posted:2 years ago

#12
One could say, with the retirement, they have ascended into the next phase beyond, leaving valiant signpost or us to continue pursuing our dreams, until we too reach that point and say. we're here...what next?

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,175 1,124 0.5
Wow. Moving from BioWare to BioBeer and beyond, I suppose. Damn.

At least I still have Neverwinter Knights Diamond to cuddle up with as well as Icewind Dale and I guess I'll be re-buying the Baldur's Gate saga at some point. Which is all weirdness deluxe, as I've been on a BioWare retro kick lately not knowing the good doctors were stepping away from gaming entirely. Off to fire up the ol' Xbox and get some KOTOR time in, as the PC disc version I bought won't even install (boo!)...

Well, they'll both be missed, that's for sure.

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Benjamin Crause
Supervisor Central Support

82 38 0.5
I think that says alot if the co-founders leave. More that anything.
Unfortunately BioWares image has decreased in many ways over the last years after they joined EA.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Benjamin Crause on 20th September 2012 10:12am

Posted:2 years ago

#15
It's called a non-compete / non-solicit, in which you are paid an acceptable amount of money to step back from the industry for 1 - 3 years, craft your own beer, then come back with a totally badass dev shop at your leisure, but give your former breathing room to know you won't sink them immedeately.

Studio heads / GMs /MDs cannot leave publicly owned overlord's folds without providing clear and loud promises that they will not strip their former shops clean (of talent or contracts) for a set period of time of no less than a year.

Happens every day. Hopefully they will promote from within and not from the EA network, that's when disasters happen.

It's an amicable divorce, rather than the West/Zampella option?

Posted:A year ago

#16

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