It was a relative surprise when news emerged that the co-founders of BioWare, Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk were retiring from their positions at the head of the company. NowGamer is reporting that this might have been due to the fan backlash following the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic and the Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco.
Ex-BioWare co-founder, Trent Oster commented on one of his recent meetings with Zeschuk.
“The last time I met up with [Greg], I felt his exhaustion. ‘Punch out, eject, get the hell out’, was my suggestion to him and it hit closer to the mark than I had realized 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.”
However, Oster was relatively surprised to see Muzyka retire.
“Ray surprised me, I had him pegged as an EA lifer. My thought was the Ray agenda was to first usurp Frank Gibeau and then later John Riccotello as CEO.”
“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.”
It’s a tough pill to swallow. To think that we, the fans, could have caused the creators of many of our beloved franchises to retire, is not something to be proud of. I for one, supported the original ending and still back the theory that games are art. Looking at it that way and seeing such a negative critical reaction from fans must not have been easy to handle.
It was around April when the doctors gave their six month notice and that’s when the issue came to the forefront. I certainly hope this isn’t the case, but if it is, I think our industry just learned a lesson. The amount of negativity and hate does have an impact on people that are creating the games we love. And if we want them to keep doing exactly that, we need to learn to be open to the developer’s rights of expression.
How a game ends is typically a pretty sacred thing, and asking for that to change should not be taken lightly.