The Doctors Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk announced today their retirement from BioWare, the video game company they founded together in 1995.
BioWare was founded in 1995; “As the legend goes, Ray and Greg went to medical school together here in Edmonton before trading in the stethoscopes to pursue their true passion of games,” wrote General Manager Aaron Flynn in his post about the retirement. After twenty years and some of the most memorable games—Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age to name a few—they’re ready to trade in their controllers and keyboards.
Last time a pair of big names were leaving their own company, it was much more dramatic; Vince Zampella and Jason West parted ways with Infinity Ward and parent Activision over performance and bonus issues, leading up to the two founding their own company and starting a lawsuit with their former employers.
With Muzyka and Zeschuk, things appear to be much more peaceful. Each of the Doctors has a final blog post explaining their reasons for leaving, plans for the future, and hopes for the company and industry.
Ray Muzyka wrote in his post that he’s ready “to pursue and entirely different set of challenges.” Muzyka had made the decision to retire from the company in April 2012, giving parent company EA six months to work on the transition. Muzyka is leaving the game industry completely and likely for good.
As to what he plans to move onto, Muzyka writes that he believes “strongly in the power of free enterprise to enable to sustainable change,” and that his next project “will likely focus on an entire new industry… investing in and mentoring entrepreneurs…” and that he plans to become more involved with charities in education, health care and animal rights. Muzyka writes that he also plans to get deeper into social liberty and human rights issues as well.
Greg Zeschuk is a little more clear about his reasons for leaving in his post.
“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,” he writes. Zeschuk adds, though, that the passion for the people at the company hasn’t faded.
Like Muzyka, Zeschuk states unequivocally, “I’m not going to be working in games for a while, and there’s a strong possibility that I won’t be back.”
Instead, Zeschuk plans to, as one would expect, spend time with family and work on his pet projects. Specifically, 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 we’re lucky, he’ll get into brewing as well and change the beer industry like he did video games. With BioBeer. Neverwinter Ale. Maybe not.
Both men leave with a high opinion of BioWare itself. Muzyka writes that the last five years with EA have been good and feels his teams have benefited. Both look further back to thank not only their fellow BioWare employees, but also the many companies they’ve worked with over the years as well as the fans and the games press.
General Manager Aaron Flynn follows up their comments in his own post.
“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.” He goes on to say that the culture Muzyka and Zeschuck built—Love of games, respect for the players, teamwork and integrity—remain strong.
Flynn also talks a bit about the games coming up. The team behind Mass Effect, led by Casey Husdon, is working on a new property set in a new universe, as well as what Flynn refers to as a “new Mass Effect project.”
This is a sad moment for many, many fans of the company and their games, but recent months have maybe hinted at this. Dragon Age II‘s reception was mixed at best, with a very short development time and an unusually repetitive structure. Mass Effect 3, of course, was the subject of a whole load of drama with an ending some fans hated and others didn’t want touched. EA, of course, suffered the brunt of the blame for that, though it’s tough to say exactly what has been troubling the studio recently. If the Doctors were losing interest, maybe that feeling was infectious, and a new era is about to descend on BioWare. The coming months will tell, especially the upcoming (though un-dated) release of Dragon Age III and the unannounced games yet to come.
[via BioWare Blog]