RUMOR: Zeschuk Quits BioWare Austin (But Still Part of Company), Studio To Be Renamed
There’s nothing else to say to the rumor burning up the Internets this morning, other than “Holy. Sh*t“, so I’ll get right to it. Via VG 24/7 comes possible word of a major shakeup at BioWare that may bring an end to BioWare Austin, and may well leave the fate of the rest of the company in serious doubt. BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk, since 2010 the General Manager at the studio behind Star Wars: The Old Republic, has apparently given a stealth announcement, via his Linkedin profile, that he stepped down from his position in May.
That would seem pretty definitive, as the only BioWare credit left on Zeschuk’s current resume is his position as co-founder of BioWare. Zeschuk hasn’t made any public statement, but if this is true, it’s yet another blow to BioWare Austin after a brutal year. Despite far exceeding Electronic Arts’ publicly stated expectations for The Old Republic, in May Electronic Arts levied layoffs and announced BioWare Austin would be restructuring, culminating in last week’s announcement that TOR would be switching to a free to play model.
More ominously, additional rumors claim that Electronic Arts is set to rebrand BioWare Austin as ‘EA Austin’, and that they’ve already replaced Zuschek with Major League Gaming CEO Matthew Bromberg. There’s also the rumor broken by German site Gamers Global that suggests things at BioWare may be far more shakier than even a cynic like me believed. According to anonymous company sources, neither Zescjuk nor his BioWare co-founder Ray Muzyka were present at a general meeting of BioWare management that took place a few days back. The BioWare source claimed this was unusual and had never happened before.
Readers may recall how it was Muzyka, and not director Casey Hudson, who finally broke the company’s near-silence on the controversial (and, frankly, terrible) ending to Mass Effect 3. His statement was an extremely heartfelt apology that contrasted sharply to the generally dismissive responses the Mass Effect team delivered previously, hinting at significant disagreement behind the scenes. And now this.
Electronic Arts has refused to comment on these reports, other than claiming that Zeshuk has “outlined his plan to return to his family in Edmonton for a much deserved vacation.” We’ll know how true they are if and when EA announces a change to BioWare Austin’s name. I’ll state for the record right now that if BioWare still exists as anything remotely similar to the company it is right in 2 years, I’ll be shocked.