BioWare founders are leaving video games

BioWare‘s doctors – Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk – have resigned from the company they founded 20 years ago, hinting that they may not return to the industry. The pair were the driving force behind games like Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Dragon Age, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and, of course, Mass Effect.

BioWare's doctors: Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka

BioWare’s doctors: Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka

The doctors made the announcement on the BioWare company blog, with Aaryn Flynn, General Manager of BioWare Edmonton and Montreal, also acknowledging the news is a bit of a shock:

I know this might be concerning for some of you but the leaders at BioWare have had some time to think about it – to think about how the games, the fans, and the creative teams would move on without the two guys who started this organization back in 1995. We – including Ray and Greg – think the studio is solid and the team here is ready to embark on a whole new era of games.

BioWare started life in 1995, when Muzyka, Zeschuk and Augustine Yip (another medical doctor graduate from the University of Alberta) joined forces to create a gaming company. A series of mergers and acquisitions followed over the next two decades, finally seeing BioWare controversially become a division of Electronic Arts in 2007.

Off the back of the super-successful Mass Effect trilogy, Muzyka and Zeschuk were put to work on Star Wars: The Old Republic, the company’s most ambitious project to date, and one with the dubious honour of potentially being the most expensive video game production in history.

In a note that Zeschuk never thought he’d write, the doctor admits:

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.

Muzyka echoes these sentiments, explaining he has “largely personally achieved what I wanted in videogames”:

The decision to leave the videogame industry is hard to explain, but essentially I feel similar now to how I felt in the early days of BioWare over the decade post-medical school, while I was still practicing as an ER physician, back when I first realized that the world of video games was my next career ‘chapter’. Two wonderful decades working at BioWare and later EA was the result of that decision. It’s not often that you can truly say you were able to pursue and achieve your dream job; I know how lucky I am to be able to say that now, in my early 40s.

[img_big]center,7251,2012-07-11/earthannounce__1_.jpg,Mass Effect 3[/img_big]

While both men are effectively leaving the entire games industry (for now at least, die-hard fans left hoping they’ll one day return), it seems the doctors are following very different career paths.

Muzyka’s “next chapter” involves investing in and mentoring new entrepreneurs, focussing on those who are looking to effect sustainable social change – a move he says stems from “the simple hope of helping the world to be a better place”.

Zeschuk is taking a thoroughly different approach: A web-based interview show called The Beer Diaries, showcasing notable brewers and showcasing the fruits of their labour.

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.

…to temper the blow a little, Flynn has hinted at “another full game” in the Mass Effect universe, plus at least one more all-new game using an all-new gaming engine – BioWare is not going away any time soon.

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