BioWare Founders Announce Retirement

BioWare announced the departure of co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk today on its website. The two, informally known as the “BioWare doctors”, first founded the company in 1995. Over the years the company became well-regarded for its Baldur’s Gate and NeverWinter Nights franchises, as well as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Over the past five years, BioWare’s been best known for the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series. But the studio’s games have not been without controversy: Dragon Age II remains divisive to the point where Dragon Age III, announced only yesterday, is already a point of contention. Likewise, Mass Effect 3, released earlier this year, stirred up hot feelings over its ending, to the point where BioWare released free DLC that reworked the last 10 minutes of the game. BioWare’s massive MMORPG undertaking, Star Wars: The Old Republic, also launched to good reviews, but quickly lost subscribers and is converting from a standard monthly subscription model to a full free-to-play model later this year.

Both Musyka and Zeschuk have posted letters explaining their reasons for departing from BioWare. Zeschuk is leaving the world of games for another world entirely, he explains in his departure letter:

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.

Muzyka, meanwhile, is planning to move into a new entreprenurial field with social impact:

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.

Both Muzyka and Zeschuk have high praise for the teams they have worked with at BioWare. “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,” Zeschuck said. “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.”

Muzyka likewise added a heartfelt thanks to the teams he has worked with at BioWare over the years.

Each also thanked the other and the fans of BioWare games, and both had positive things to say about EA, which acquired BioWare in 2007.

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