Two titans of BioWare (makers of Mass Effect and Dragon Age) yesterday announced that they are leaving the studio. Casey Hudson, general manager of the studio, and Mark Darrah, executive producer of the Dragon Age series, both wrote about their departure on BioWare’s official blog.
Hudson began his post with a tone of gratitude, praising his peers as “brilliantly talented people” and noting that leaving the studio was “not an easy decision to make.” Hudson joined BioWare in 2000 as a technical artist, commenting in his post that BioWare’s founders “took a chance” on him and “fundamentally altered” the course of his life when they hired him.
Darrah had been with the company since their work on Baldur’s Gate, a Dungeons and Dragons -inspired RPG that was the studio’s first major hit. Calling the announcement “some important, if sad, news,” Darrah called attention to the changes that the coronavirus pandemic have brought to BioWare and the world at large.
Continuing, Darrah wrote, “BioWare has always been about telling emotional stories through characters. We have wandered away from this central guiding pillar at times, but I am confident that the next Dragon Age will show that we remain committed to this kind of game… I’m excited to find out what Dragon Age now becomes.”
Neither Hudson nor Darrah indicated what comes next for them after their resignations. BioWare will continue to work on Dragon Age 4, which began development in 2015, without Hudson and Darrah.
Gary McKay, the Senior Director of Development Operations at BioWare, will fill in as Interim General Manager. Christian Dailey, another BioWare employee, will be replacing Mark Darrah as Executive Producer for Dragon Age 4. Dailey, who was himself the studio director for BioWare Austin, the studio behind Anthem, is also leaving behind a leadership role to be filled.
Christian Dailey left his own note on BioWare’s blog today, calling the departure of Casey and Mark “bittersweet.” He went on to say, “Mark is someone who I look up to and is a true BioWare legend. We all hope to make him proud as we look to deliver the best Dragon Age story yet, otherwise we know we’ll hear about it…”
Many fans of Dragon Age have reacted negatively to this news, some speculating that the sudden departure of Casey and Mark may have been due to creative differences, citing EA’s acquisition of BioWare as the beginning of the end. There is fear that the quality of Dragon Age 4 will suffer without their leadership, but others point out that video games are a collaborative medium made by many talented people, not just by the leaders among them.
Matthew Goldman, creative director of the Dragon Age series for three years and before that, visual director of the series since 2009, is staying with the studio, to the relief of some.
Today is Dragon Age Day, a fan-initiated day in honor of the Dragon Age series that has been acknowledged by EA and BioWare, who launched a website today in celebration of the series. The website is promoting the series with a debut of four short stories set in the world of Dragon Age, Thedas, and written by members of BioWare. The website also features a selection of fan art from Twitter. Additionally, Dragon Age Day organizers host an annual charity fundraising event and this year’s charity is The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, “to honor Black Lives Matter alongside EA and BioWare.”