Mass Effect writer Drew Karpyshyn says he left BioWare because it became too 'corporate'

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

Longtime BioWare designer James Ohlen left the studio in July 2018, after 22 years and credits on games ranging from Baldur's Gate to Anthem. His departure came shortly after that of writer Drew Karpyshyn, who'd been with BioWare for nearly as long—his first credit is as a writer and editor on the Baldur's Gate 2 manual—and who left, for the second time, a few months earlier. Now they're back together again at Ohlen's new studio, Archetype Entertainment.

"I’m proud to announce that I’m the lead writer for Archetype Entertainment!" Karpyshyn wrote on his blog. "Founded by James Ohlen—the creative genius behind BioWare hits like Baldur’s Gate, KOTOR and Dragon Age—Archetype is a new video game studio under the Wizards of the Coast umbrella… and I haven’t been this excited to work on a project in a long, long time! (Side note: I’ve always enjoyed working with WotC; they even published my first novel!)"

He also touched on his time at BioWare in the update, describing it as "a dream job—talented people working together to create epic games like Baldur’s Gate, KOTOR, Mass Effect and Dragon Age." But that changed as the studio grew and became more successful, he wrote.

"We became more corporate. We were less able to make what we loved, and the teams were pushed to create games based on market research rather than our creative instincts and passions. My dream job became just a job, and I lost the enthusiasm and excitement I once had."

Karpyshyn said that the early days of Archetype remind him of the early days at BioWare—and, rather boldly, he predicted that comparable things are in the works at his new outfit.

"I know we have big shoes to fill. With BioWare, I was part of a legacy that will endure forever. We created some of the most beloved CRPGs of the past two decades," he wrote. "But I truly believe at Archetype we have the talent and the opportunity to do something just as amazing!"

Karpyshyn isn't the only BioWare alum to join Ohlen at Archetype: Chad Robertson, the former head of live service at BioWare who left the company in late 2019, is Archetype's general manager. The studio is currently working on a "story driven", "multi-platform roleplaying game set in a new science fiction universe."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.