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The countdown to Bioware II begins today
by Shava Nerad on 09/19/12 01:10:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Today, Bioware co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk mysteriously, on the same day, have left EA/Bioware for non-pastures (one to no job, the other to create a beer podcast? yup, no job...).  

Not to greener pastures, not to amazing new RPG innovations in the games industry.  Just...nothing.

Fan and industry reaction has ranged from mourning for an iconic and beloved company, fallen -- to abject rage at the sell-out founders.

Let me propose an alternative:  What this means is, these two men just finished negotiating their ransom note.  Maybe even in lieu of suing EA over gutting Bioware in violation of whatever terms they'd negotiated to stay, originally -- it's so hard to tell when no one will talk, legally.  

My guess is, the clock just started ticking.

I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that what this means is that they are leaving under a non-compete agreement with EA that says you may not work for any videogame company for X years.  And that they are going to play with beer podcasts or whatever for EXACTLY (X*12 months)+0 days these two will surface with venture capital money with a new gaming company.

These agreements generally include a confidentiality clause, so it's not like they can say in a press release, "Yo, EA sucks y'all, and we are cooling our jets for two years just so we can rise again and bite them in the butt.  Please hold the date for the party at the appropriate GDC."

And hey, I can just speculate, but then, I started with the old silicon giants thirty years ago, and I worked in entertainment licensing with clients that included Sony Pictures, HBO, and Paramount.  I grew up through soap operas and sharks.  This may be a very young industry, but I can speculate like games are old school, because we are big business now.  Last I heard we even let lawyers in.  So, you know, things like this happen.

Anyone willing to put dollars up against this happy box of Dunkins I got here?

Bioware is dead.  Long live Bioware-to-come, whatever the new name is going to be. 

Hey Ray, Greg!  Your secret is safe with me.  Here's my card.  If you need one of the few folks paying attention around here -- I might be available when probation runs out.  Give me a call. 

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Nathan Zufelt
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Wow, this is like TMZ for gaming.

Read their official blog posts:

They didn't mysteriously walk out the same day. This transition has been in process for a long time and they left on the absolute best of terms to pursue non-gaming goals in life. Ray is hardly unemployed now, he's pursing Social Impact Investing.

They came, they conquered, they retired.

Shava Nerad
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They announced the same day. They left on the best of terms -- that's what good will is all about. They don't have to be unemployed, they just can't be working in the game industry for this to be consistent. Working in social impact investing (knowing people who are investors) could cover anything from having two meetings a week or being on a board or...

Look, I understand you work at Bioware but do you know the terms of the M&A agreement? If you did you likely couldn't tell me. If someone who was privy to that agreement told me I was full of it told me so, I'd believe it; otherwise, I'd take it as a teachable moment.

Non-competes are legal with sale of goodwill anywhere in Canada. Although they aren't legal for hiring a coder in California, they are legal in M&A agreements in California. So either jurisdiction, this is perfectly legally plausible.

If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. How many dollars you putting up against those doughnuts? I'm happy to start a pool. ;)