Recently, the two co-founders of BioWare, Doctors Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, left the company they started 17 years ago. They were responsible for bringing us games like Knights of the Old Republic and the incredibly popular Mass Effect trilogy. The two haven’t only left BioWare and parent company Electronic Arts, but they’ve left the gaming industry for good.
Now that the initial shock of the departure has worn off, people who used to work with the doctors are beginning to speak up. One such person is Trent Oster, who helped Muzyka and Zeschuk found BioWare to begin with; he also developed Baldur’s Gate. According to Oster, the negative fan reactions to Mass Effect 3 and to MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, may have been contributing factors into why the two doctors have left the gaming industry.
Speaking to website NowGamer, Oster said that the last time he saw Zeschuk he “felt his exhaustion”. His suggestion to the doctor was to “punch out, eject, get the hell out” which we all know is what ended up happening.
“I also think the Mass Effect 3 fan reaction and The Old Republic fans’ negativity was just too much. You have to love games and you put your heart into them to create them. To have the fans creating petitions against the work is pretty hard to take, especially when you’ve spent the last few years crunching overtime to try and ship a game. It can be hard to shut off the overwhelming negativity the Internet spews forth, especially when it has your name or the name of your company in it.”
According to Oster, Muzyka’s departure was a big surprise as Oster had had him pegged as a possible future CEO of Electronic Arts. Oster believes that that could have quite readily been the case, but that the supposed “failure” of The Old Republic would have made things harder for Dr. Ray Muzyka. Oster also took the moment to take a swipe at EA’s management:
“I’m sure the internal culture at EA had pinned The Old Republic conversion to free to play as a failure and hung that completely on Ray, so that would have hurt his upward climb. But, I figured he would fight harder. EA upper management must have been even worse than I thought.”
Other than the reasons outlined in their departure letters, we’ll likely never know all the reasons why Muzyka and Zeschuk left their company and the industry. It’s possible that Oster’s opinions are way off, but even if fan negativity only contributed a minute amount to their decision to resign, that’s a minute amount too much.
On a side note: when searching for a header image for this piece I Google image searched “enraged gamer”. A whole bunch of Mass Effect screenshots came up in the results. Coincidence?