BioWare is a Canadian video game developer located in Edmonton,
Alberta, Canada. It was founded in February 1995 by newly graduated
medical doctors Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk, and Augustine Yip, and is
currently owned by American company Electronic Arts. The company
specializes in role-playing video games, and achieved recognition for
launching highly praised and successful licensed franchises: Baldur's
Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
They proceeded to make several other successful games based on
original intellectual property: Jade Empire, the
Mass Effect series,
Dragon Age series. In 2011,
BioWare launched their first
massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Star Wars: The Old
Shattered Steel and Baldur's Gate
1.3 2000s: EA acquisition,
Mass Effect and Dragon Age
1.4 2010s: Muzyka and Zeschuk's departure,
Mass Effect on hiatus,
4 Games developed
5 Awards and recognition
6 See also
8 External links
BioWare was established in February 1995 by Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk,
Trent Oster, Brent Oster, Marcel Zeschuk, and Augustine Yip. The three
doctors (Muzyka, Zeschuk, Yip), who had recently graduated together
from medical school at the University of Alberta; had done some
programming for use in school and played video games for recreation,
eventually deciding to develop their own. Their success in the
medical field provided them with the funding they needed to launch a
video game company. To make their first game, they pooled their
resources, which resulted in capital of $100,000.
Shattered Steel and Baldur's Gate
Their first game, Shattered Steel, began its life as a
proof-of-concept demo, similar to the MechWarrior games. This demo was
submitted to ten publishers, seven of whom returned to the company
with an offer. A publishing deal for
Shattered Steel was eventually
signed with Interplay Entertainment. Brent Oster and Trent Oster left
BioWare at that time to form Pyrotek Studios, which continued
Shattered Steel but broke up a year later, with Trent
BioWare to finish the game. BioWare's first game was
released the following year. Shattered Steel's release was described
IGN as a "modest success" with "decent sales". Two noteworthy
points were the deformable terrain (player weapon damage caused
craters in the environment) and zone damage (well-placed gunfire could
shoot mounted weapons off enemies). A sequel to
Shattered Steel was
planned for 1998 but never realized.
BioWare's founders and staff were keenly interested in both
computerized and pen-and-paper variants of role-playing games. Their
next development project, therefore, was determined to be a
role-playing game. When Interplay financed "exploratory development",
BioWare presented the publishers with a demo called Battleground:
Infinity. Interplay suggested that the demonstrated gameplay engine
would be well-suited to the Dungeons & Dragons license which it
had acquired from SSI. Accordingly, Infinity was reworked in line with
the Dungeons & Dragons ruleset.
This resulted in Baldur's Gate, which witnessed a development cycle of
three years. During this time, the three doctors continued to practice
medicine. However, in the final years of the project, the demands of
development prompted Muzyka and Zeschuck to leave medicine and move
into full-time development. Augustine Yip decided to continue with his
Baldur's Gate sold more than two million copies
after its release, nearly matching the sales of Diablo. Following the
success of Baldur's Gate, the Infinity Engine was used for the games
Planescape: Torment and the Icewind Dale series. The success of
Baldur's Gate was followed by an expansion pack for the game: Tales of
the Sword Coast.
2000s: EA acquisition,
Mass Effect and Dragon Age
At this point,
BioWare decided to return to the action genre. The
company's initial thought was to develop a sequel to Shattered Steel,
but eventually a sequel to MDK from
Shiny Entertainment was chosen for
MDK 2 was released on PC, Dreamcast, and eventually
PlayStation 2, offering
BioWare their first taste of developing games
MDK 2 drew the same level of praise as its
predecessor but, despite the success,
BioWare returned to the Baldur's
Gate series for their next project.
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn was released in 2000, two years
after the release of Baldur's Gate.
Baldur's Gate II sold two
million copies, matching the sales of the first game in the series.
However, the success of both
Baldur's Gate II and
MDK 2 was not enough
to stabilize Interplay financially, who eventually went bankrupt.
Following Interplay's bankruptcy,
BioWare began to work with
Infogrames, which was later renamed to Atari. Neverwinter Nights
was originally to be published by Interplay, but the company lost the
license of the game to
Atari and part of their Dungeons & Dragons
license to BioWare. After selling their D&D license to Atari,
BioWare developed Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade
Empire. It had publishing relationships with Interplay Entertainment,
Infogrames and, under its new name Atari, LucasArts, and Microsoft.
The next few years saw a number of changes in BioWare's corporate
status. In November 2005, it was announced that
BioWare and Pandemic
Studios (itself founded by former
Activision employees) would be
joining forces, with private equity fund
Elevation Partners investing
in the partnership. On October 11, 2007, however, it was announced
that this new partnership (organized as VG Holding Corp) had been
bought by Electronic Arts.
BioWare therefore became a unit of EA,
but retained its own branding.
BioWare released the science fiction role-playing game Mass
Effect. The following year,
BioWare released Sonic Chronicles: The
Dark Brotherhood on the Nintendo DS, its first title for a handheld
game console. Later, EA announced that
BioWare would be merged with
Mythic Entertainment, another division of EA, so that they could have
all of their role-playing game development in one business unit.
The growth of the MMORPG group as part of
Electronic Arts in 2008 has
resulted in three additional studios being added to the
outside BioWare's original home base in Edmonton. The first, located
in Austin, Texas, and headed by industry veterans
Gordon Walton and
Richard Vogel, was created to work on the Star Wars: The Old Republic
MMORPG project. Both the studio and the project were announced on
March 13, 2006. On March 2, 2009,
BioWare announced it had opened a
new studio in Montreal, Quebec, to assist with existing projects as
necessary. In 2009 Mythic Entertainment, based in Fairfax,
Virginia, became part of the RPG/MMO Group, later being renamed
BioWare Mythic in early 2010.
On June 24, 2009,
Electronic Arts announced a restructuring of their
role-playing and massively multiplayer online games development into a
new group that included both
Mythic Entertainment and BioWare. Ray
Muzyka, co-founder and general manager of BioWare, was appointed the
Group general manager of this newly formed "
BioWare Group". BioWare's
other co-founder, Greg Zeschuk, became the Group Creative Officer for
the new MMORPG studio group. Rob Denton stepped up as general manager
of Mythic, reporting to Muzyka, and later became the Group Operations
Officer of the new group. BioWare's studios remained unchanged and
continued to report to Muzyka. Near the end of 2009, BioWare
released the acclaimed fantasy role-playing game Dragon Age: Origins.
2010s: Muzyka and Zeschuk's departure,
Mass Effect on hiatus,
In January 2010,
BioWare released the sequel to Mass Effect, Mass
Effect 2, which would go on to receive critical acclaim and more than
60 awards. The company announced that it would be opening up a new
customer service office in Galway, Ireland, in 2011. BioWare
completed three major games between 2011 and 2012. The massively
multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Star Wars: The Old
Republic is based on BioWare's previous contribution to the Star Wars
franchise, and was announced on October 21, 2008, although BioWare
had first mentioned an unspecified new collaboration with
October the previous year. The other games were
Dragon Age II, the
sequel to Dragon Age: Origins, and
Mass Effect 3.
Following the release of
Mass Effect 3 in March 2012, numerous players
complained about its endings failing to fulfill the developer's
earlier promises regarding the conclusion of the trilogy. In response
to these criticisms,
BioWare announced on April 5 that they would
reschedule their post-release content production and release an
"Extended Cut" DLC that would expand the original endings and address
the most common points of critique. The Extended Cut was released
as a free download on June 26, 2012. In the aftermath of the
Forbes contributor Erik Kain wrote that it "may end up
being a healthy one for the industry, opening a new chapter in
gamer/developer/publisher relations", calling
BioWare and EA's
decision to act on the fans' complaints a "remarkable" choice that
made gamers realize "that they are entitled, and that it isn't a bad
thing, to quality games".
On September 18, 2012, the next day after the official announcement of
Dragon Age title, both
Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, two
of the remaining co-founders of BioWare, simultaneously announced they
would be retiring from the gaming industry. After almost a
year without a formal head, EA appointed Matthew Bromberg the group
general manager of the
BioWare label on September 9, 2013. Former CEO
and president of Major League Gaming, Bromberg worked as the general
BioWare Austin since 2012; after his promotion, Jeff
Hickman took over as the general manager in Austin. Aaryn Flynn
remains in charge of
Edmonton and Montreal) and Jon
Van Caneghem, the head of Victory Games and Waystone Studio (also
parts of the
After acquiring and dismantling LucasArts, The Walt Disney Company
announced in May 2013 that
Electronic Arts will produce future Star
Wars games, " in addition to the
BioWare team, which is already
developing for the
Star Wars franchise." In November 2013, teaser
images from the next installment of the
Mass Effect series have been
released. At E3 2014,
Edmonton announced working on a new
(unnamed) original intellectual property in addition to continuing
their established series. Another new IP, titled
Shadow Realms is
an episodic 4 vs. 1 story-driven online action role-playing game, and
was announced on Gamescom 2014. On February 9, 2015, Bioware
Austin announced that the development on
Shadow Realms would not
Casey Hudson, the creator of the
Mass Effect series, left
May 2014, while Drew Karpyshyn, writer of Star Wars: Knights of the
Old Republic, returned in 2015, Dragon Age's writer David Gaider
BioWare in January 2016. Chris Wynn and Chris Schlerf, both
had had an important role in the development of Mass Effect:
Andromeda, left in December 2015 and February 2016 respectively.
Alexis Kennedy, co-founder of
Failbetter Games and the creative
director of Dragon Age: The Last Court, joined
BioWare as its "first
ever guest writer" in September 2016.
On September 13, 2016, EA announced the formation of EA Worldwide
Studios, which would consist of the
BioWare Studios, EA Mobile, and
Maxis, and led by the DICE co-founder Patrick Soderlund. At the same
time, Samantha Ryan, head of
EA Mobile and Maxis, was appointed the
new head of the
BioWare Studios (
Aaryn Flynn remained in charge of
BioWare Canada). Released in March 2017, Andromeda was at the
center of controversy of equal proportions, if not higher than that
around the third chapter; starting with heavy criticisms that were
addressed before the video game was released to the lukewarm
response received by the specialized press and the fandom with
sales lower than the previous
Mass Effect chapters. Given the
Electronic Arts has reportedly frozen the entire Mass
Effect series, downgrading the
BioWare Montréal branch from a leading
development team to a support team, and later merging it into EA
During EA's EA Play pre-E3 press conference on June 10, 2017, BioWare
revealed Anthem, a new action role-playing game, with BioWare's
story writer, Drew Karpyshyn, who previously worked on
Mass Effect and
Mass Effect 2, contributing to the new game. In July 2017, Aaryn
Flynn, General Manager of BioWare, announced that he would depart from
the company. Casey Hudson, who left the company in 2014, returned to
BioWare as its new General Manager. Lead story developer for Jade
Dragon Age creative director Mike Laidlaw announced his
BioWare in October 2017 after 14 years with the
Between 1998 and 2011,
BioWare developed a number of in-house video
game engines to serve as technical basis for their games. Some of
these engines were then licensed to other companies to develop their
own games. Others came with modding toolkits, allowing the fan
community to implement original adventures using the technology of
BioWare created the Infinity Engine to use it as a
core component for development of 2D role-playing video games based on
Dungeons & Dragons, the
Baldur's Gate series (1998–2001). The
engine was also used by
Black Isle Studios to create the critically
acclaimed Planescape: Torment (1999) and the Icewind Dale series
The Aurora Engine was the successor to the Infinity Engine, featuring
full 3D environments, real-time lighting and shadows, and surround
BioWare used the Aurora Engine to produce their 2002
Neverwinter Nights, as well as two expansion packs. The game included
the so-called "Aurora toolset", a collection of tools allowing users
to create their own digital adventure modules to be played either in
single-player or in online multiplayer. The toolset enjoyed great
popularity among the modding community, with over a thousand fan-made
modules produced in it within half a year after the release.
Obsidian Entertainment (successor to Black Isle Studios) used an
updated version of BioWare's Aurora, titled "Electron Engine", to
Neverwinter Nights 2 (2006) and its three expansion packs
(2007–2009). Like the original, the Electron toolset was released
with the game. The Polish studio
CD Projekt Red
CD Projekt Red used the Aurora
Engine to develop The Witcher, the 2007 video game adaptation of the
Polish fantasy novel series, although the rendering module was
rewritten from scratch.
BioWare used an updated version of the Aurora, titled the Odyssey
Engine, to produce Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic in 2003 and
their first original intellectual property role-playing game Jade
Empire in 2005. The Odyssey Engine was the first
BioWare engine to
allow developing for video game consoles, with both Knights of the Old
Jade Empire originally released for the Xbox before being
ported to the PC platform.
Obsidian Entertainment used the Odyssey
Engine to develop
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith
Lords (2004), a sequel to the original Knights of the Old Republic.
BioWare maintained limited oversight on Obsidian's development of The
Sith Lords, as well as
Neverwinter Nights 2.
The Eclipse Engine, also known as the Lycium Engine, succeeded the
Odyssey Engine and, among other things, supported
acceleration. It was used to produce Dragon Age: Origins (2009)
and its expansion pack (2010). Like Neverwinter Nights, Origins was
released with a toolset to allow the players to run their own
adventure modules on the Eclipse Engine. An upgraded version of
the Eclipse Engine, internally known as the Lycium Engine, was used to
Dragon Age 2 (2011).
In 2013, EA confirmed that all future games developed by
be made on EA DICE's Frostbite 3 engine. Both Dragon Age: Inquisition
Mass Effect Andromeda were announced to be based on the Frostbite
3 engine, as part of the general move towards a unified technology
foundation across all of Electronic Arts' developer studios.
Edmonton (general manager: Casey Hudson). The original
BioWare studio, it is responsible for most of the games released under
BioWare label, including the ongoing
Dragon Age series, the
Mass Effect trilogy, and the upcoming Anthem.
BioWare Austin (general manager: Casey Hudson). Formed in March
2006 specifically to develop Star Wars: The Old Republic (with
BioWare Austin later began working
on a new IP called Shadow Realms, but production was shelved in
February 2015 in order to focus on the continuing production of Dragon
Age: Inquisition and The Old Republic.
BioWare Montreal, formed in March 2009 to assist the
where necessary. Led the development of DLC for the Mass Effect
series as well as Mass Effect: Andromeda.
merged with EA's
Motive Studios in August 2017.
BioWare San Francisco, founded as EA2D and developed
Mirror's Edge 2D
and Dragon Age: Legends, became part of BioWare, but was closed in
BioWare Mythic, formerly known as Mythic Entertainment, until June
2009, re-renamed to
Mythic Entertainment in November 2012 and closed
completely in 2014.
Victory Games, founded in February 2011 as
BioWare Victory to develop
the 2013 Command & Conquer, it had since dropped the BioWare
label in November 2012 but remained part of the
The studio dissolved in October 2013.
Waystone Games, the developer of Dawngate, which was cancelled in
BioWare Sacramento, founded as KlickNation 2008, acquired and renamed
BioWare Sacramento in 2011, and renamed EA Capital Games in 2014.
Main article: List of
BioWare video games
Awards and recognition
In addition to numerous game awards, the company has been awarded with
a number of business related awards:
Profit 100 – Canada's Fastest Growing Companies 2005 (Rank 81)
In October 2008,
BioWare was named one of
Alberta's Top Employers
Alberta's Top Employers by
Canada Inc., which was announced by the Calgary Herald
The full list of awards can be found on their web site.
Spike TV's 2010 Video Game Awards: Studio of the Year (2010)
Hall of Fame induction (2010)
Black Isle Studios
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BioWare at MobyGames
Tales of the Sword Coast
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
Throne of Bhaal
Shadows of Undrentide
Hordes of the Underdark
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Mass Effect Galaxy
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Dragon Age: Origins
Dragon Age II
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
Black Isle Studios
Command & Conquer (2013)
Larry Probst (Executive Chairman)
Andrew Wilson (CEO)
Patrick Söderlund (EVP)
John Schappert (video game executive)
Neil Young (video game executive)
DICE Los Angeles
European Integration Studio
The Sims Studio
EA Black Box
EA Bright Light
EA Salt Lake
EA Sports Big
Army of Two
Command & Conquer
Medal of Honor
Need for Speed
Plants vs. Zombies
Star Wars: Battlefront
List of acquisitions
Canadian Western Bank
Capital Power Corporation
Company’s Coming Publishing
Lone Pine Publishing
Servus Credit Union
Triple Five Group
United Furniture Warehouse
ISNI: 0000 0001 0661 3359