Electronic Arts has announced that BioWare general manager Casey Hudson and Dragon Age executive producer Mark Darrah have both left the studio. Laura Miele, EA's chief studio officer, said that Samantha Ryan will "continue to oversee the studio," while the in-development Dragon Age project will now be headed up by BioWare Austin studio director Christian Dailey.
"I want to personally thank Casey and Mark for everything they have done for the BioWare community, and particularly for our players," Miele wrote. "They will always be an essential part of the studio’s history, we appreciate their many contributions, and we look forward to seeing what they’ll each do next."
"When I think about BioWare’s future and the next generation of talent in place, I could not be more confident or optimistic. As we look to the studio’s future and the projects currently under development, the next generation of BioWare talent is leading the studio forward and working on some incredible games that I know you will be excited to experience in the coming years."
Hudson said in a statement of his own that the decision was a tough one, and came "with a certain degree of sadness."
"I will miss being able to work every day with our inspiring developers on the biggest and most exciting projects I can imagine," he wrote. "But I also know that this is a good time for a change, for both myself and BioWare."
Darrah expressed similar sentiments: "This has been a very difficult decision for me. The team of amazing developers on Dragon Age, make my life fuller and better. They have taught me so much. But the strength of the team is also what makes this possible. I know that Dragon Age won’t just survive without me, it will thrive."
Despite the positive words—both Hudson and Darrah expressed confidence in BioWare's leadership and creative teams, and Dailey in particular—it's hard not to see this as a big blow for BioWare. The departures come less than a month after Hudson confirmed that a Mass Effect remaster, and a brand-new Mass Effect game, are in development, and we only got our first "real" look at the next Dragon Age in June. Suddenly losing the top guys on each of those projects at this early stage of development cannot be seen as a good sign, nor is roping Dailey into Dragon Age—which isn't to say that he's not up to the job, but he's supposed to have his hands full on the Anthem do-over.
BioWare is also now without a general manager, another sign that Hudson's exit was sudden and unplanned. "The search for a new GM is underway and we are already talking to some great people," Miele wrote. "We will find the right leader who has a deep love and respect for this studio’s heritage, who embodies the values of this team and who will help carry on the incredible legacy of BioWare."
Neither Hudson nor Darrah said what they'd be getting up to next, but each credited the other for their work at BioWare: Hudson said he valued Darrah's contribution to BioWare immensely, "especially in recent years as a key partner in leading the studio," while Darrah said that Hudson "has taught me a lot of things over the years, especially since his return three years ago."
Their departures also come closely behind the recent announcement of Yellow Brick Games, a new studio co-founded by former Dragon Age creative director Mike Laidlaw. The timing seems oddly coincidental, although Laidlaw expressed surprise at the news in his reaction on Twitter.
Uhm...holy shit? https://t.co/HxFCQOZVh5December 3, 2020
BioWare veteran and former Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider had similar thoughts.
sweet mother of zeus https://t.co/ruDEMcIbb2December 3, 2020
Michael Gamble, the project director on Mass Effect, also weighed in with warm words.
Everything you've taught me. Everything we've discussed. And much like Ray and Greg altered the course of your life...know that you did the same for me. I look forward to sitting down with you outside of the office (and get your feedback on) the Mass Effect teams latest work.December 3, 2020
And also this.
There's ONE person who is having a good day. That is the PR person who has to monitor @BioMarkDarrah twitter to make sure he's not telling secrets. Wait. It's gonna be worse now? Nevermind, then.December 3, 2020